Your Personalized Car Care Schedule
By Kimberly Graf. Published on October 17, 2019
There are certain things that must be maintained in order to take proper care of your car. In fact, everything on your car should be checked at some point, but when? If you know when these checks were last performed, that will go a long way towards developing a schedule. If you don't, you still need to get this stuff looked at.
There are certain things that need to be checked frequently. Check your oil level every week or couple of weeks to make sure you don't run low, as this could damage your engine. You should also keep a frequent eye on your tires. The tread should be nice and thick, and the tire pressure should run about as much as is recommended. You can find how much your tires should be aired up in your user manual.
It's also a good idea to check your lights every couple of weeks, as you can still get a ticket for a taillight that doesn't work even if you weren't aware.
That's a good place to start your car care schedule. Every two weeks, check oil levels, lights, and tires.
Next are the things that need to be maintained every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Your battery and cables should still look good and function okay when attached to a battery meter. You should check transmission fluid levels and make sure that all of your belts are still working properly. You also have to check the air filter on your engine, and get your oil changed at a shop. Power steering fluid is also a must at this point, as are the hoses and exhaust system.
Most repair shops will do these checks automatically when you take your car in for an oil change, or you can ask them to do so. So make note of when this stuff was last done and when it needs to be done again. Every three months (or 3,000 miles), change oil and check hoses, belts, filters, fluids, and battery.
There is going to be some overlap from here on out. The next interval is every six months or 6,000 miles. Special things at this milestone are the windshield wiper blades and the chassis. Wiper blades should be in one piece and the rubber should be attached and not cracked. These can also be checked on rainy days: if they don't clear the windshield properly you need to replace them. The chassis will need to be lubricated at this interval to prevent damage from the parts rubbing together wrong. If you aren't sure when this was last done in your car, you can always get a shop to check and see if it needs to be lubed.
Mark those dates down and make sure that you have the future dates noted as well. Every six months (or 6,000 miles), replace wiper blades and get chassis lubed.
In the last group of maintenance items is antifreeze, to keep your liquids from freezing as well as to keep your cars from overheating. This is extremely important especially during the summer and winter months. You want to make sure there is always enough to prevent serious damage. There's also the cabin air filter, which might need to be changed at this point. Steering and Suspension are extremely important, and these systems should be checked once a year to make sure there are no issues.
Your wheels should also be aligned at this point, to keep your car running straight and without issues. Every 12 months (or 12,000 miles), get an alignment, check your steering and suspension systems, check the cabin air filter, and keep your antifreeze topped off.
So say you had all of this done on January 1st of any given year. Your car care schedule will look like this:
January 1st: All Routine Maintenance
April 1st: Oil change, visually check belts and hoses, get filters and battery checked.
August 1st: Oil change, visually check belts and hoses, get filters and battery checked. Replace wiper blades and lube chassis.
November 1st: Oil change, visually check belts and hoses, get filters and battery checked.
January 1st: All routine maintenance.
This takes into account that you will be checking oil levels, tires, and other regular things every two weeks. When you get all of this taken care of on a routine basis, your car will be running smoothly and there will (hopefully!) be no unexpected breakdowns or issues. If you want to extend the life of your vehicle, you have to keep it in good working order! If you take care of your car, it will take care of you.