going through maintenance checklist

Keeping up with your auto’s maintenance helps you get the most out of your investment. Reliable transportation is necessary, and keeping up on car maintenance will make sure that your auto will get you where you need to go. Performing the required car maintenance at the proper time has both short and long-term benefits. Let’s explore proper car maintenance a bit further.

Why Maintain Your Car?

Almost everyone knows that getting your car’s oil changed regularly is essential for keeping your engine running smoothly, but other components also need regular attention. Here are some of the most important reasons why car maintenance should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Know Your Owner’s Manual

Now that you know the importance of keeping up with car maintenance and taking it in for regular service, the next question that you might be wondering is what maintenance needs to be done and when. For this, the best source of information is your Owner’s Manual.

Unfortunately, many auto owners never even read their Owner’s Manual, and this can be a big mistake. The Owner’s Manual will tell you what needs maintenance and when. It will also tell you the proper types of fluids that your auto needs. Using the wrong type of fluid in your auto can damage it and cause parts to fail. It also provides information on how to do some of the car maintenance and inspections.

Whether you by a new or used vehicle, it should come with an Owner’s Manual. If the seller does not hand the manual to you, check in the glove box or in the compartments on the inside of the door. If your auto did not come with an Owner’s Manual, then you can contact the dealership, contact the manufacturer themselves, and some of them are available online. The most important thing is to make sure that you have a manual and read it first thing when you get your new car.

Know Your Warning Lights

car warning lights

 

Modern vehicles come with an array of sensors and systems to let you know that something is wrong with your auto and needs maintenance. Hopefully, it will let you know before anything catastrophic happens so that you can attend to it immediately. If the auto has something wrong, one of the symbols on your dashboard might light up to tell you that something needs maintenance.

If a warning light comes on, do not want to ignore it. It is best to seek help with maintenance as soon as possible. Driving with a warning light on can be dangerous and lead to extensive damage to your vehicle. So, if one of the symbols on your dashboard lights up, what should you do about it?

One handy tool to have on hand is an OBD2 scanner. This is a device that can hook into your car and read the code that caused the maintenance light to illuminate. This will tell you where the problem is and what needs maintenance. That lets you assess whether it is safe to drive the car and get it fixed as quickly as possible, or if the car should not be driven at all and it is time to call the tow truck. It taps into your car’s diagnostic system and lets you know which sensors are going off and why in most cases.

An OBD2 scanner can run anywhere from under $50 to a couple of hundred dollars. If you do not know how to use one, or you are not confident, some major car service chains will read your codes for you for free, provided that you can get your car to them. You can get one that is as simple or complex as you prefer.

Aside from having an OBD2 scanner on hand, you should also be familiar with the different symbols on your dashboard. Here are the 15 most common maintenance symbols that you will find. Some cars have more than these, and some have less. Once again, your best source of information is your Owner’s Manual. You should at least be familiar with the following warning lights of every car.

Keep in mind that every time you start your car, the system does a check, and many of these lights might light up briefly and then go out again in a few seconds. If this happens, then you have nothing to worry about, and everything is working fine. You should only worry if the lights do not go out, or if they come on when you have not just started your car. If you are driving and one comes one, then it is best to pull over or get your car checked as soon as possible.

Things Every Car Needs

Now, you have a few of the basics of car maintenance. You know the importance of keeping your vehicle maintained and properly serviced. You know the importance of having and reading your Owner’s Manual. You also now have a clue as to what all of those lights on the dashboard mean. Next, it is time to get into the meat of this article and tackle the most common maintenance items that every vehicle needs.

These are the basics that apply to most vehicles, but your model’s needs might be slightly different. Be sure to read your Owner’s Manual and consider it to be the authority for you. Here are some things that you need to put on your calendar and do on a regular basis.

General Inspection and Tires

 

Engine Maintenance

Keeping your tires and body in good condition are important maintenance items, but keeping your engine maintained according to the manual is the most important item on the list. Depending on your experience level, there are many things that you can do yourself, but if you are in doubt, then you should not hesitate to take your car to a professional. If you choose to service your engine yourself, you could consider having at least the following supplies on hand. Your manual might have other recommendations for maintenance, too.

You will also need basic tools such as adjustable wrenches, vice grips, flathead screwdrivers, Phillips head screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, needle-nosed pliers, a socket set and some old rags. The following items apply mainly to gasoline engines and hybrids. Electric cars need a different set of maintenance items, but this is usually less than what is needed for gasoline engines. Here are the basic items that you need to do for maintenance. Once again, your manual is the best resource. Also, read this post to find general information according to car engines.

alternator belt photo
oil level checking
coolant expansion tank
new and dirty air filters
new spark plug placement
clean car battery terminal

Now, you know the basics of tire and engine maintenance, but there are a few more general items that you need to attend to on the list.

 

General Items

Car Body Care

car body inspection

Washing your car and caring for your paint can help it last longer. It is also considered a part of car maintenance. Bird droppings, acid rain, and road salt can cause your paint to dull and wear over time. Eventually, this can lead to chips, cracks, and, eventually, rust. Proper body care can help to preserve the looks and life of your car. Here are a few of the items that you will need to do the job right. Once again, the manual might recommend certain products for your car maintenance routine.

This might seem like a long list, but keeping up with car maintenance can have many benefits. Many of these items do not take long and are relatively simple, but they are important. If you do these steps, you can be sure that your car will have a long life and remain reliable when you need it.

Sources:

1. Tips That Will Extend the Life of Your Car – Reader’s Digest
2. Routine Vehicle Maintenance 101 – iDriveSafely.com
3. The Ultimate Car Maintenance Checklist – BridgestoneTire.com

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