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September 17, 2018
An Easy, Printable Checklist for Routine Auto Maintenance
The average life of a vehicle today in Canada is about 12 years. Routine auto maintenance can save you thousands of dollars per year and can increase the life expectancy of your car.
A car is similar to a person- it needs check-ups, and the like, to keep it running smooth and to catch minor problems before they become major ones.
Regular car maintenance will serve you well in the long run. Reap the benefits of an increased lifespan for your vehicle, better dollar for your trade, and an overall healthy automobile.
Want to keep your car running past 250,000 kms? The next time you head into your mechanic, use this vehicle maintenance checklist to cover all your ground.
Types of Schedules
Vehicles will fall into two separate maintenance schedules, regular or severe.
Many drivers will fall under regular maintenance, but consider a severe schedule if you do any of the following:
- Driving is harsh environmental conditions
- Frequently driving off road
- Sitting in stop and go traffic
- Carrying heavy loads
A severe schedule simply means you have your vehicle checked more often because of the type of driving you do.
Routine Auto Maintenance Checklist
Typical auto check-ups happen in monthly increments and kilometres. This can make it easy to remember.
To give your car the best care, check these things on a monthly basis:
Check the air pressure and tread depth, and especially inspect them before a long car trip. Use a penny method to measure the treads.
Double check the spare tire at this time as well.
Oil And Coolant
Low levels of oil can create engine problems and cost you hundreds of dollars.
Muddy roads and wet conditions can really affect your safety on the road if your windshield fluid is low!
Turn signals, headlights, and parking breaks all need to be operating efficiently. There’s also the potential to get pulled over for lights that don’t work — and nobody wants that.
Some people may ride this off, but the air filter collects debris that would otherwise clog up your engine, resulting in costly repairs. It’s an inexpensive fix to keep your air filter in good working order.
Check Engine Light
Always be watching out for the check engine light.
Clean The Interior and Exterior
Toss out the trash, coffee cups, and vacuum crumbs. Consider taking it to be detailed to keep it as clean as possible. Ensure you have the owners manual and proper insurance documentation in the glove compartment.
Three Months or 3,000 Kilometers
In addition to checking off everything on the monthly maintenance list, be aware of these areas:
Oil And Filter Change
There’s some debate over the time for an oil change. Some say every 3,000, some say every 5,000, and some say every 7,000. It really just depends on your vehicle and the type of oil you use, so check your owners manual or ask your mechanic.
Transmission fluid keeps everything running smoothly.
A simple trip to the auto shop will save you a huge headache should your battery die when you’re out on the road.
Power Steering Fluid
Not having the power steering properly lubricated can be dangerous. This is easy to check and can be done at the same time as an oil change.
Fuel Injector Fluid
Fuel injectors keep your engine firing properly and when this is clean and free from deposits it works better.
Hoses carry coolant to your engine and prevent overheating. Cracked and brittle hoses need to be replaced.
Six Months or 6,000 Kilometers
Check all the items on the monthly and three-month checklist with the six-month checklist.
Be sure to wax your vehicle to keep it looking fresh and to repel rust.
If your wiper blades begin streaking, squeaking, or smearing it’s time to replace them. Not having working wiper blades interferes with your vision and reaction time on the road.
The life of a serpentine belt is anywhere from 60,000-100,000 kms. A squeaking sound coming from your vehicle or an overheating engine could be an indicator that it’s time to replace the belt. When this is cracked and worn down, it can do great damage to the power steering, air conditioning, and alternator.
Everything above and the following:
Tires take the burden of weight, especially on front-wheel vehicles. It’s important to rotate the tires to make sure tire wear is even and to keep fuel efficiency up.
Manual Transmission Fluid
If you have a manual transmission vehicle, be sure to check the fluid.
Once A Year or 12,000 Kilometers
Everything mentioned above, plus:
Flush The Radiator
Coolant or antifreeze in your car regulates the temperature in the engine, keeping it from freezing in winter and overheating during the summer.
When that brake light appears on your dashboard, it’s enough to make anyone worry! Make sure this is done once a year, every year.
Buffing and cleaning the headlights maintains their clarity and look of the vehicle.
You know the drill! All the previous suggestions and these:
Replace Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are located in the engine and when they are out, so is your vehicle! Some plugs have a longer life, so double check with your mechanic to see if replacement is necessary.
The bounce test evaluates how well the shocks are working. Too much bounce can result in loss of control of the car.
Continue all the recommendations mentioned above along with the following:
Change Lubricant For Rear Axle in Differential
The rear axle is found in the powertrain and carries power from the engine to the wheels. This needs to be well lubricated to for power to flow.
A wheel alignment differs from a tire rotation. An alignment readjusts the suspension system. The tires are included in this as they are connected to the system.
Possible U-Joint Replacement
The Universal- or U-Joint is in rear-wheel-drive cars, the U-joint holds the drive shaft steady. A U-joint has a long life – usually the life of the car – but having it checked is wise.
Regular Maintenance Makes for a Longer-Lasting Car
Putting the extra time into auto maintenance pays off. Not staying on top of your car’s maintenance can cause a heavy setback financially if the problem becomes too large. The best way to avoid any huge issue is by scheduling routine check-ups for your car.
This maintenance schedule can point you in the right direction when you’re thinking about what your car needs.
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