Your car has an average lifespan of 200,000 miles or about 12 years. But it’ll only see that many years if you invest in its proper maintenance.
Car ownership comes with many responsibilities, and maintenance is one of them. You have to keep up with regular tasks like oil changes and checking tire rotations. You also need to be vigilant about potential problems.
But with all the different moving parts, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to. That’s why it’s vital to have a car maintenance checklist that you can refer to regularly.
By taking the guesswork out of car care, you can avoid expensive repairs down the road. So what should be on your vehicle’s maintenance checklist? Read on for our top tips.
Car Maintenance Checklist
Check Your Tires Regularly
Your tires are what keep you connected to the road. If you get a car loan to buy your car, you want to ensure that the tires don’t interfere with your driving experience. So it’s essential to check on their condition often.
Here are a few things you should look for:
The Tire’s Pressure
The ideal tire pressure will vary depending on the make and model of your car. You can usually find this information in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.
Use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in each tire. If the pressure is low, add air to the tires until they reach the recommended level. Remember to check the tire pressure often during the winter months.
The Tire’s Tread
You can check the tread on your own by using the penny test. Place a penny head-first into the tread groove. If you can see all of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires.
Another way to check the tread is to look for wear bars. These raised portions of the tire appear when the tread has worn down to a certain level. You should also have your tires professionally inspected every 6,000 miles or so.
Tire Alignment and Balance
Your tires can become misaligned over time. This happens when the suspension components become worn or damaged.
You might need to align your tires if you notice that your car is pulling to one side. You’ll also need an alignment if the steering wheel is vibrating or the tires are wearing unevenly. If you hit a pothole or curb, you should also have the alignment checked.
Tire balancing is another vital part of vehicle care. Balancing involves adding weight to the tire to compensate for any imbalances. Balancing the tires can improve your car’s handling and extend the tires’ life.
Keep an Eye on Your Car’s Fluids
Your car’s fluids play a vital role in its performance. That’s why it’s crucial to watch their levels and condition. Check the following fluids often:
To check the oil level, open your vehicle’s hood, pull out the dipstick, and wipe it off with a rag. Insert it back into the engine and remove it again. Check the level of oil on the dipstick and add more if necessary.
You should also check the oil condition during engine maintenance. If it’s dark or gritty, it’s time for a change.
Coolant helps to keep your engine cool and prevents it from overheating. You can check the coolant level by examining the overflow tank.
The coolant level should be between the “full” and “low” marks on the tank. If it’s low, add more coolant until it reaches the proper level.
During a vehicle maintenance appointment, checking the brake fluid should be at the top of your list. Brake fluid helps you apply the brakes when you press down on the pedal.
Check the fluid by removing the reservoir cap and looking at the fluid level. If it’s low, add more fluid until it reaches the “full” line on the side of the reservoir.
Automatic Transmission Fluid
This fluid keeps your car’s transmission cool and lubricated. Before checking the transmission fluid, park the vehicle on a level surface and turn off the engine. Use the dipstick to check the fluid level.
The transmission fluid should be between the “full” and “low” marks on the dipstick. If the fluid level is low, add enough ATF to bring it to the “full” mark.
You can check the clutch fluid by getting in the driver’s seat and pressing the clutch pedal several times. If the pedal feels “spongy” or doesn’t return to the top, the fluid level is low and needs refilling.
Before checking this fluid, ensure that you park your car on a level surface. Let the engine cool down for 30 minutes to minimize the risk of burning.
Locate the reservoir, unscrew the cap, and check the fluid level. Add more until it reaches the “full” line if it’s low.
Over time, the battery fluid level will drop as the water evaporates. The check engine light may come on if the fluid level gets too low.
To check the level, remove the battery cover and look at the fluid level in each cell. If it’s low, add distilled water until it reaches the top of the lead plates.
Check Your Car’s Lights
An essential part of routine vehicle maintenance is checking your vehicle’s lights. Before negotiating the best price with your car dealer, ensure the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights are working.
These lights are required by law in most states. They also play a critical role in keeping you safe on the road.
Once you buy the car, check the headlights for alignment, brightness, and cracks from time to time. Ensure you check the brake lights to ensure there are no burned-out bulbs and that they’re operating well.
A quick way to check the lights is to turn on the car’s headlights and walk around the vehicle’s perimeter. If any of your car’s lights are not working, replace them as soon as possible.
Check the Car Battery
One of the most important things to do on a car maintenance checklist is to check your car’s battery. A faulty battery is one of the reasons for the check engine light.
The battery provides the power to start the engine. A failing battery can cause your car’s engine to stall, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.
A dying battery can cause your car’s electrical system to malfunction. These systems include lights, radios, and other accessories. If these components fail, you might need costly vehicle repairs.
You should also check the battery because a dead battery can be a fire hazard. If you’re unsure how to check your car’s battery, open the hood and locate the positive and negative terminals.
Once you’ve found them, use a voltmeter to test the voltage. If it reads 12 volts or less, it’s time to recharge or replace your battery. Recharging a car battery is a simple process that you can do at home with a battery charger.
Check the Exhaust System
Another item on the car’s maintenance checklist is to check the exhaust system. The exhaust system reduces noise pollution and removes harmful gases from the engine.
A malfunctioning exhaust system can cause your car to overheat, leading to engine damage. It can also cause carbon monoxide to build up in the cabin, which can be dangerous to your health.
When it’s time to check the exhaust system, start the car and let it idle for a few minutes. Put your hand on the tailpipe. If you feel heat radiating from the pipe, the system is working properly.
If you don’t feel any heat or the pipe is hot to the touch, there may be a problem with the system. You should have a mechanic inspect the car as soon as possible.
Check Your Brakes
One of the essential items on a car maintenance checklist is to check your brakes. Your brakes stop your car, so it’s vital to ensure they’re in good working condition.
You should check your brakes for wear and tear and leaks. If you notice any problems, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic to have the brakes repaired or replaced.
You should be more concerned about the brakes when buying a car with a rebuilt title. You might be wondering, what does a rebuilt title mean?
A rebuilt title means the car has been in a major accident and was repaired. The repairs might not have been done correctly, impacting the vehicle’s safety features, such as brakes.
When buying a rebuilt title car, ask a mechanic to inspect it first. The mechanic will help you identify unusual sounds. Examples include squeaking or grinding, which could indicate brake problems.
Inspect the Belts and Hoses
You should inspect the belts and hoses in your car. These components can wear out over time and cause your vehicle to break down.
We mean the timing belt, serpentine belt, and drive belts. You should check these belts for cracks or fraying. If you notice any problems, it’s best to replace the belts.
As for hoses, they carry fluids throughout the car’s engine. To check the hoses, look for leaks, cracks, or bulges. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to replace the hose.
It’s also a good idea to check the hoses for kinks. Kinks can prevent the hose from properly circulating fluids and cause your car to overheat.
If you buy a used car from a reliable owner, they might give you documents confirming that they have been maintaining the car well. It’ll contain information about what they’ve done with the belts and hoses, and when
You should ensure that you’re buying the car from a legit source to get a maintenance report. You can use the best free VIN check to verify the car’s identity and avoid scams.
Check the Wiper Blades
The wiper blades are responsible for keeping your windshield clear of debris, so it’s essential to ensure they’re in good condition. Wiper blades can wear out over time and become cracked or brittle. If you notice any damage, it’s best to replace them.
You should also check the wiper blades for any build-up of dirt or grime. If the wiper blades are dirty, they won’t be as effective at keeping your windshield clean. This can impact your safety while driving.
To clean the blades, remove them from the windshield and wipe them down with a cloth.
Examine the Oil and Air Filters
When inspecting your car, you should check the oil and air filters. The oil filter is responsible for removing impurities from the oil. The air filters keep the air clean.
Over time, the air filters can become clogged with dirt and debris, impacting your car’s performance. The engine might not run as smoothly, and you might notice a decrease in fuel efficiency.
If the oil or air filters are dirty, it can cause your car to run less efficiently. It’s best to replace the filters every 5,000 miles to ensure your car runs properly.
If you want to clean the air filters, remove them from the car and wash them with soap and water. You can also use a vacuum to remove any dirt or debris.
Keep Your Vehicle in Tip-Top Shape with This Car Maintenance Checklist
These are just a few items that should be on your car maintenance checklist. By keeping up with routine maintenance, you can extend the life of your car.
Now that you know what it takes to maintain your vehicle, you might be ready to buy a new or used car. If you’re stressed about your new or used car financing, you should reach out to CarsFast for an auto loan. We’ll match you with the best auto loan lenders all over Canada through our LendingArch network.
Apply now, and we’ll connect you to the most affordable lending solution.