Car Maintenance Checklist

 A car maintenance checklist is an easy way to keep you on track in regards to your car maintenance schedule and get the best service from your vehicle. Maintaining a good car maintenance schedule can optimize the value of your car and help prevent expensive repairs. It is also an important aspect of car safety and may avert roadside breakdowns.

Choose the Type of Checklist
There are many options when considering a car maintenance checklist. It should be simple to follow, easy to update, and help you with following your maintenance schedule. The most widely used is a simple booklet, easy to store in your glove box. However, today’s technology provides a lot of other options that include PDA’s, mobile phones, laptops, on board computers, etc. It’s important to consider all options and select a checklist that works best for you.

Segment the Timing of Your Checklist
Segment your checklist into four timetable categories. These segments are monthly, quarterly, twice yearly, and as needed. The “as needed” category is important to track every maintenance activity, even the unforeseen ones.

Fill in the Maintenance Items for Each Segment

Logging should occur monthly, quarterly, and biannually.


  • The oil level. Remember to wipe the dipstick first and add if oil is low. Also look for leaks.
  • Hoses and belts. Look for worn or frayed belts. Look for rotten, bulging or brittle hoses. Replace as needed.
  • Tire pressure. Check and compare to tire chart provided by the manufacturer and add air as needed. Inspect for leaks, uneven wear or damage.
  • Coolant. Make sure engine is cool and add if low.

Quarterly or 3,500 Miles

  • Change oil and replace oil filter.
  • Look at battery terminals and cables and check for corrosion. Clean if needed.
  • Check windshield washer fluid and add if needed.
  • Check brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid. If there’s a dipstick, make sure to wipe the dipstick first and reinsert to check the level. Add fluid if needed.
  • Using a coolant gauge, check the integrity of the coolant based on seasonal recommendations
  • Remove and check air filter and replace if dirty. Make sure no dirt falls into the intake when removing the old filter.

Biannually (Every 6 Months) or 7,000 Miles

  • Check wiper blades and replace if brittle or worn.
  • Ensure headlights, brake lights, horn, and signals work.
  • Check brakes for wear.
  • Inspect the spare tire to make sure it’s inflated.
  • Examine exhaust system looking for damage, rust, or loose parts.
  • Check shock absorbers for wear and oil seepage.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Car Maintenance Log

Keeping a car maintenance log is a great idea. Not only can it improve resale value of your car by a great margin, it can also help keep you organized and on top of required maintenance.

Improved resale value. Buying a used car can be a gamble. You want a car that will be reliable and last long enough to get your money’s worth, but if you don’t know how well it was maintained, it’s hard to spend a large amount of money on an unknown. Showing a detailed log showing that routine maintenance was done regularly goes a long way to prove that your car is in great shape. The buyer knows what they’re getting into and may be willing to pay a good deal more since they know exactly what kind of shape the car is in.

More regular maintenance. It can be easy to forget to do basic maintenance jobs especially during busy times of year or during harsh weather. By keeping a detailed maintenance log and a car maintenance checklist, you know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, so you can be sure you’re not forgetting anything.

Simplified diagnosis. A detailed log should include dates and mileage as well as a brief description of work done. Receipts and pictures can be included as well if you choose. Should something go wrong with the car, by looking over the log you can help more quickly narrow down potential causes. For example, should the car begin to idle roughly, if you see that spark plugs were replaced only a few thousand miles prior, they are likely not the cause.

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Myth Busted: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall.

The pounds-per-square-inch figure on the side of the tire is the maximum pressure that the tire can safely hold, not the automaker’s recommended pressure, which provides the best balance of braking, handling, gas mileage, and ride comfort. That figure is usually found on a doorjamb sticker, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door. Perform a monthly pressure check when tires are cold or after the car has been parked for a few hours.

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Cross Drilled or Slotted Rotors?

What’s the purpose of drilled rotors or slotted rotors?
Crossed drilled rotors and slotted rotors (and rotors that are both slotted and drilled) are designed to allow gases to escape that build up between the brake pad and brake rotor. This allows your brakes to run cooler and stop better.

Cross Drilled Rotors
Cross drilled rotors are OEM style blank rotors that have been cross drilled to allow heat to escape that builds up between the brake pad and rotor through the drilled holes. Many people prefer drilled rotors because they like the look and consider it a good upgrade over an OEM blank rotor. Over the years, we have seen drilled rotors crack between the drilled holes due to the rotor being low quality and extreme brake temps causing excessive heat. This shows us that even though drilled rotors are specifically designed to expel hot gases, cheap or inexpensive rotors aren’t drilled in the proper way or with proper drill locations, so the purpose is for looks and not for performance. If you are buying a drilled rotor,  a quality brand such as EBC, Brembo, or Wilwood would be best. (Ebay non name brands just stay away). The image below shows what can happen with a low quality cross drilled rotor when it cracks.


Slotted Rotors
Slotted brake rotors are a great alternative to drilled rotors because they serve the same purpose of expelling hot brake gas, but since they retain the strength of the rotor, they do not crack like drilled rotors can. We highly recommend slotted rotors such as StopTech. Some people argue that the drilled rotors are more for show, and the slotted rotors are more for race and performance. Slotted rotors are also better designed for wet conditions as they move water away from the rotor more efficiently for superior wet braking.

Less Brake Fade and Longer Life?
Brake companies say their rotors have double the life over stock rotors and have less brake fade, but we haven’t seen this. Usually the less brake fade comes from people upgrading their brake pads at the same time but since most brake pads offer better stopping power, they dig deeper into the rotor so any benefit the rotor has from higher quality material is offset by the more aggressive brake pad that eats away at the rotor material.

What’s best for the street vs the track?
Most will not notice a difference in stopping performance from the brake rotor, but rather from the brake pads. The advantages from cross drilled and slotted rotors comes during extremely hard and repetitive braking such as in competition use. For the best bang for the buck, we recommend a good set of brake pads and if your car is older with rubber brake lines, to replace them with stainless steel brake lines.

Final Recommendation
For the track or the street, a good quality slotted brake rotor and high quality brake pads. If you decide you want the look of a drilled rotor, go with a high quality brand to lower the chance of cracking between the drills.




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Myth Busted:Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.

Despite what oil companies and quick-lube shops often claim, it’s usually not necessary. Stick to the service intervals in your car’s owner’s manual. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles are designed to go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Changing oil more often doesn’t hurt the engine, but it can cost you a lot of extra money. Automakers often recommend 3,000-mile intervals for severe driving conditions, such as constant stop-and-go driving, frequent trailer-towing, mountainous terrain, or dusty conditions.

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Myth Busted: Engine oil that’s turned black is no good

Photo Credit:  wikipedia

Engine oil that turns black is actually a sign that the oil is working. Modern engine oils contain detergent-dispersant additives that keep engine internal parts clean by removing carbon deposits and maintaining them in harmless suspension in the oil.

It is better to have the carbon deposits in the oil so they can be drained off than to have them left as deposits in the engine where they could do the most damage.

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