Preventative Car Maintenance: What to Check and When

Preventative maintenance is the best thing that you can do for your vehicle. Following a regular maintenance schedule will help keep your car running at its best, and will save you a bit of money down the road.

Automotive Technology of West Islip Blog: Preventative Car Maintenance: What to Check and When

The Car Care Council has developed a car care schedule for the regular maintenance of most cars, minivans, pickups, and SUVs. It is pretty standard and fits within the schedule of most vehicles. However, you should always refer to your owner’s manual for maintenance requirements specific to your vehicle’s make and model. The Car Care Council’s general guidelines are as follows:

Check Often

  • Dashboard Indicator Lights On- Any time a dashboard indicator light comes on you need to have maintenance performed on your vehicle to resolve the issue as soon as possible. There are no real time intervals for this one. If the light is on, take care of the problem. If it is a flashing light, the problem is more severe and you should not continue to drive your vehicle until it has been repaired.
  • Lights- Try and get in the habit of walking around the outside of your vehicle once every couple of weeks with the lights on. Make sure no bulbs are out, include the bulbs laminating the license plate. If any bulbs are out, first check the fuses, then replace either the fuse or the bulb depending on what is causing the problem. Keep your fingers off the bulb as our skin leaves a residue on the bulb that causes it to burn hotter and die quicker.
  • Tire Inflation and Condition- Check the tire pressure on all tires, including the spare, monthly, and more often in colder temperatures. Check the tread for irregular and uneven wear. Look for cuts or bruises along the sidewalls. If needed, inflate the tires to maintain the recommended psi, per your owner’s manual.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid- Check windshield washer fluid monthly. If needed, fill with washer fluid. Choose one that is best suited for the environment in which you frequently drive. In colder months, choose a fluid that is made to better the inclement weather. Only fill with washer fluid, not water.
  • Engine Oil Level- Once a month check your engine oil level. Top off if needed.

Check Every Three Months or 3,000 Miles

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid- If low, add the type of transmission fluid recommended in your owner’s manual.
  • Battery and Cables- Make sure the battery is mounted securely and that the connections are clean, tight, and corrosion free.
  • Belts- Look over serpentine belts and V-belts to determine if they are loose and check their condition. Replace if they appear cracked, frayed, glazed, or excessively worn.
  • Dashboard Indicator Light On
  • Engine Air Filter- It’s easy to remember to do this if you make it a point to check it at every oil change. Replace when leaking, torn, soaked with oil or water, restricted or showing signs of wear.
  • Engine Oil- Usually it is recommended to change our oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, however, you should refer to your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle. How you drive and the conditions in which you drive also have an impact on how often a change is needed, so some cars will need service sooner than others.
  • Exhaust- Look over for leak and damage, as well as broken supports or hangers. If there is an unusual noise, inspect it right away regardless of how long it has been since your last inspection. Exhaust leaks can make you ill and are potentially deadly. Exhaust problems should be corrected without delay.
  • Hoses- Replace if leaking, cracked, rusted, swollen, brittle, or restricted.
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid- Check fluid level while the car is warmed up. If low, add the correct type of fluid.
  • Tire Inflation and Condition- Check as described above. Replace if tires are worn or damaged.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid

Check Every Six Months or 6,000 Miles

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Battery and Cables
  • Belts
  • Chassis Lubrication- Check your owner’s manual. Many newer cars are “lubed-for-life,” so your vehicle may not require this service.
  • Dashboard Indicator Light On
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Engine Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid- If you find yourself needing to top off again already, check for leaks and repair if necessary.
  • Tire Inflation and Condition- Rotate tires every 6,000 miles.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Wiper Blades- Replace every six months or when torn, cracked, cut, streaking, or chattering.

Check Every Nine Months or 9,000 Miles

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Battery and Cables
  • Belts
  • Dashboard Indicator Light On
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Engine Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Tire Inflation and Condition
  • Windshield Washer Fluid

Check Every Twelve Months or 12,000 Miles

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid- For best performance, change every two to three years (24,000-36,000 miles).
  • Battery and Cables- If the battery is three years or older it should be tested and replaced if necessary.
  • Belts- Timing belts will need to be replaced per the interval specified in your owner’s manual. It is usually between 60,000 and 90,000 miles.
  • Brakes- The entire brake system should be checked yearly. This includes the brake pads, rotors, shoes, drums, calipers, and the brake fluid. Change brake fluid every two to three years (24,000-36,000 miles).
  • Cabin Air Filter- Replace yearly. If you live in an area with a lot of dust or debris in the air, you may want to do this every six months instead.
  • Chassis Lubrication
  • Dashboard Indicator Light On
  • Coolant (Antifreeze)- Check fluid level at the reservoir. If low, refill with a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze (refer to your owner’s manual) and distilled water. Remember to never open a hot radiator cap. Check for leaks and have repaired if necessary. Change the coolant out as recommended by your owner’s manual.
  • Engine Air Filter- Replace once a year or when leaking, torn, soaked with oil or water, restricted or showing signs of wear.
  • Engine Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Steering and Suspension- Inspect all aspect of the system annually including wheel alignment, shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts like ball joints, tie rod ends and other components. If any leaks, damage or loose hardware are found have them replaced.
  • Tire Inflation and Condition- Rotate tires every 6,000 miles.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Wiper Blades- Replace every six months or when torn, cracked, cut, streaking, or chattering.

Automotive Technology of West Islip is happy to help you service your vehicle. We service all makes and models of vehicles and can do any repair from large to small. We offer email reminders for scheduled maintenance, appointments, and walk-ins based on availability. Give us a call at (631) 321-5209, or request an appointment online.

 

 

 

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