Preventative maintenance is the key to reducing the long term costs of vehicle operation and improving dependability. Simply stated, there is more involved to properly maintaining a vehicle than just changing the oil. Below is a brief service guide from the Car Care Council to help with learning about preventative maintenance.
From the Car Care Council
Oil, Filters, Fluids
- Engine Filter and Oil Changes
- Check level with engine off at every fill up.
- For maximum engine life, change oil and filter every 3 months or 3000 miles
- Many newer cars are lubed-for-life – many others still require this service
- Steering and suspension components may require periodic lubrication
- Replace if restricted or water contaminated. Restricted fuel filters shorten life of fuel pump.
- Replace filter every 2 years / 24,000 miles
Engine Air Filter
- Inspect filter at each oil change
- Replace annually or when torn, water or oil soaked, dirty or showing other signs of wear.
Automatic Transmission Fluid
- Check fluid levels with engine running and transmission in park or neutral, depending on manufacturer instructions.
- For maximum performance, change every 2 years / 24,000 miles.
- Differential, Manual Transmission and Transfer Case (if equipped.)
- Check fluids at each oil change
- Replace fluids every 4 years / 50,000 miles using factory recommended lubricant.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Check fluid monthly
- Use washer fluid only
Power Steering Fluid
- Check fluid with engine off using either “Full Cold” or “Full Hot” indicator lines on dipstick
- If frequent topping off is required, inspect for leaks and replace if contaminated.
- Replace fluid every 2 years / 24,000 miles
- Replace annually, or more often in areas with heavy airborne contaminants or whenever heating or cooling efficiency is reduced
- Check level at resevoir – never open a hot radiator cap
- If low, add 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze/coolant and distilled water
- Change coolant every 2 years / 24,000 miles on most vehicles
Belts and Hoses
- Inspect hoses at each oil change and replace when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen or restricted
- Check the V-belts and serpentine belts for tension and condition.
- Replace when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear.
- Typically replace timing belt between 60,000 to 90,000 miles – not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage.
- Check the entire brake system every year; inspecting brake linings, rotors and drums
- Check fluid with engine off or running
- If frequent topping off is required, inspect brake linings and check for fluid leaks
- Replace fluid every 2 years / 24,000 miles
- Replace oxygen sensor at interval as recommended in owners manual
- Some cars have an oxygen sensor replacement light that appears when replacement is needed – 1996 and newer cards have more than one oxygen sensor
- Typical spark plug replacement intervals range between 30,000 and 100,000 miles depending on the vehicle and type of spark plug
Steering, Suspension & Tires
- Inspect steering and suspension system at least annually. Including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, and other related components. Replace these parts if leaks, damage and loose mounting hardware are found.
- Check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, monthly
- Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts or bruises along the sidewalls
- inflate tires and maintain at recommended pressure
- Replace tires if worn or damaged
Check Engine Light
- If check engine light comes on while driving or remains on your vehicle may have an emissions or sensor problems and should be analyzed/diagnosed.
- If light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked immediately to prevent catalytic converter or other damage.
- To prevent stripping the vehicle’s wax finish, use only automotive car wash products. Not dish washing liquids.
- Polish at least twice a year to maintain and protect finish
- Inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise.
- Exhaust leaks can allow carbon monoxide gas into the passenger compartment
Batteries and Cables
- If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary.
- Battery should be securely mounted
- Battery connection should be clean, tight and corrosion free
Every 3,000 miles
- Change engine oil and replace oil filter
- Perform multipoint inspection
- Rotate tires every other oil change for optimal tire life