Complete Auto Maintenance: A Mile-by-Mile Checklist
If you own a car, you probably already know that regular maintenance is important. Not only can proper maintenance prevent costly or potentially dangerous car-related disasters, but it’ll help extend the life of your car. While most are aware of this, many still fail to take proper care of their vehicles. Maybe it’s because auto maintenance isn’t a convenient experience, maybe it’s because we fear that repairs are going to be too expensive, or maybe it’s because many of us simply don’t know what we should be doing to maintain our cars. In an effort to clear up some of the mysteries or misconceptions surrounding auto maintenance, we’ve put together this helpful mile-by-mile checklist.
What You Should Check Frequently
Here are some things you should be checking every month, starting right after you get your car:
• Check Engine Light
• Tire Inflation and Condition
Certainly, if your check engine light comes on, you should take your car to a qualified repair technician right away to make sure that nothing is seriously wrong. The check engine light isn’t something to take lightly, and should never be ignored. Additionally, it’s important to keep track of the inflation level and condition of your car’s tires. Proper inflation ensures that your tires wear evenly and can contribute to better fuel efficiency. In fact, the US Department of Energy says that for every 1-psi drop in pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.2 percent. Poor tire condition can also result in flat tires or dangerous blowouts, so it’s best to keep an eye on the condition of your tires and have them rotated or replaced, when necessary. Finally, if one of your headlights has gone out, it’s important to replace it promptly to ensure safety and avoid getting a ticket. Proper car care products necessary for cleaning and occasional light maintenance can be purchased inexpensively using our Advance Auto Parts coupon codes.
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What You Should Check Every Three Months (or 3000 Miles)
Every three months or 3000 miles, you should also make sure to check some things under the hood:
• Transmission Fluid
• Power Steering Fluid
• Filters (Air, Fuel, & Oil)
• Everything Checked Monthly
Experts recommend regularly checking under the hood for issues with the battery, belts, filters, and oil starting at the first three months, and every three months thereafter. While it’s not especially common for there to be issues after the first three months, it’s still important to be proactive, and aware of any potential problems that might develop down the line. At this point, most repairs are relatively simple and inexpensive, but if they are ignored, can develop into very serious problems. When you’re evaluating your vehicle for issues with the above you can take advantage of the relatively inexpensive replacement options from auto parts stores instead of having to take your car to a technician. In the case that you’re driving a newer car, it’s also important to consult with your owner’s manual for the specific schedule recommended for your car.
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What You Should Check Every Six Months (or 6000 Miles)
In addition to all of the aforementioned things you should be checking every month and every three months, there are some important things to check every six months or 6000 miles:
• Chassis Lubrication
• Wiper Blades
• Everything Checked Monthly & Every Three Months
Chassis lubrication isn’t necessary for every car; many newer cars are lubed-for-life. For the cars that aren’t, it’s important to have your car checked every six months to see if lubrication’s necessary. To see if your car requires periodic chassis lubrication, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual. In addition, your car may require lubrication of the replacement steering and suspension components. While it may not seem as crucial, you should also be replacing your wiper blades every six months. If they’re cracked, cut, torn, streaking, or chattering, it’s important to replace them right away. Effective wiper blades ensure proper visibility, which is crucial for safety when driving in certain weather conditions.
For most people, every six months is a good, if not perfect, cadence for taking a vehicle in for routine maintenance to cover all the factors discussed in the three -month section. If it’s been six months since the last time you checked belts, hoses, filters, battery, or had your car’s oil changed, it’s time to schedule a tune-up.
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What You Should Check Every 12 Months (or 12,000 Miles)
There are some things you should have checked once per year, or 12,000 miles. These include:
• Steering and Suspension
• Cabin Air Filter
When it comes to your car’s brakes, which you always want in proper working condition, be sure to get them checked by a professional once per year. This means having the entire brake system checked, including the brake linings, rotors, and drums. There are a lot of different issues with brakes that can occur, and none of them should be ignored. Procrastinating on proper brake maintenance not only puts you at risk, it also compounds problems and increases the cost of repairs when you do finally take your car in for brake service.
For most vehicles, you’ll want to change coolant annually. Again, this is an instance where you should consult your owner’s manual or a trusted professional. When it comes to your car’s steering and suspension, you’ll want to replace it if leaks, damage, or loose mounting hardware are found. If, after 12 months, you’ve noticed that your vehicle is bouncing excessively, pay special attention to your suspension system. In areas with heavy airborne contaminants, or if your cars heating or cooling efficiency is reduced, you should also have the cabin air filter replaced annually.
Other Maintenance You Should Be Doing
While monthly, biannual, and annual milestones make consistent, proper maintenance easier to manage and increase the longevity of your automobile, there are also some repairs you should consider periodically that fall outside of these times. These include:
• Spark Plugs
It’s recommended that you replace your car’s tires every 45,000 miles. If your tires aren’t properly maintained or properly inflated, they may not last as long. But, if you’re checking every month as advised, this is the proper number of miles you can expect to get out of your tires. Be sure to keep a good quality spare tire inflated, and in your car, in case of an emergency blowout. After all, all the preparation and maintenance in the world won’t protect you from a misplaced nail in the road.
When it comes to your spark plugs, you’ll want to have them changed regularly. For most cars, that’s after 30,000 miles. Some plugs, however, will last up to 100,000 miles, so be sure to check your owner’s manual. This is important because worn out spark plugs can cost you money in fuel and can lead to breakdowns.
While it may seem like there’s a lot to stay on top of when it comes to car maintenance, keeping a proper schedule and knowing what to check and when to check it will help you save money and avoid costly car troubles down the line.
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