Take 10 minutes and use our Monthly Checklist to do your own quick visual car inspection. A few minutes each month could save you a lot of money on repairs down the road. Following a basic car maintenance checklist can help keep you on the road and out of the repair shop.
- Check tire pressure: A car tire inflated to 35 pounds per square inch (psi) can lose one psi every month or for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature change, so your car maintenance checklist should include checking tire pressure. Find the recommended level in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb. And don’t forget the spare.
- Check tire condition: Check the tread remaining on your tires, look for any objects lodged in the tire and check for any uneven wear on your tires which could be a sign that your tires are out of alignment.
- Check wiper blades: Windshield wiper care is one of the most neglected basic car care tips. Replace the blades every six to 12 months or whenever the rubber becomes worn.
- Check fluids:
- Oil: Check the oil level with the engine off and the car parked on a level surface. Open the hood, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel, then return it to the oil reservoir. Take it out again and see whether the level is within the acceptable range marked on the dipstick. If you add oil, don’t overfill, which can damage the engine.
- Coolant: Replace most engine coolant or antifreeze every 30,000 miles – or every two to three years. Newer formulas, however, may last up to 50,000 miles. To check coolant level, turn the car off and wait for the engine to cool. Locate the coolant reservoir (usually a translucent plastic tank) and eyeball the level of the coolant against the full and low indicators.
- Washer: The washer fluid will most likely be a transluscent container under your hood with the symbol of windshield wipers on it.
- Power steering: Power steering fluid should be changed every three years or 50,000 miles. If you have a power steering fluid reservoir, check the level visually; otherwise, follow the dipstick method. Low power steering fluid may indicate a leak, so have your mechanic take a look.
- Brake: Locate brake master cylinder reservoir. It is usually mounted on or near firewall at rear of engine compartment, almost directly in front of where the brake pedal is mounted on other side of bulkhead. Consult vehicle's owner's manual if you're having trouble identifying it.
Remember ... Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.