Aside from your home, your vehicle is one of the largest purchases you’ll make. It makes sense to spend some time and money on routine maintenance because, to paraphrase a 1970s oil filter commercial*, you can pay for it now or you can pay for it later.
To keep your vehicle in top shape and have it last as long as possible, here is a list of maintenance items to take care of on a regular basis:
- Filters and Fluids – Everyone knows to get regular oil/oil filter changes (check your owner’s manual, but usually every 3-4 months or 10,000 miles, whichever is first). Make sure to also check your power steering and brake fluids and filters, and regularly inspect the engine air filter, cabin air filter, and fuel filter.
- Battery and Cables – Make sure your battery is filled (if not a sealed unit), the cables are tightly connected and there is no corrosion. Start testing your battery at around the 3 year mark (esp in very hot climates), and plan on replacing it at around year 5.
- Belts and Hoses – Nothing is worse than a busted radiator hose or having your engine go down because of a broken timing belt. Have your belts and hoses inspected every 4-6 months.
- Rotate and Inspect Your Tires – In addition to ensuring they remain properly inflated, rotating your tires is key to tire longevity. Make sure to check the tire or vehicle owner’s manual, as some tires may need to be rotated in a particular fashion. Also, regularly check your tire tread depth by using a penny to ensure you’re not going below 2/32” safe tread depth.
- Drivetrain and Chassis – Check your owner’s manual for information on having your chassis, steering, suspension, and differential inspected and lubricated. Also regularly inspect your motor mounts and get them replaced as needed.
- Vehicle Exterior – Keep your car looking good by getting it regularly washed and waxed about twice a year to protect the finish against the elements. Make sure to clean the underside of your vehicle, especially after winter, to get rid of any ice-melting substances used on the road and clean out mud and debris that might be stuck there.
All of these are essential to keeping your car in the best shape possible and, should you ever decide to sell or trade your vehicle, having records of regular maintenance can help boost its value.