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.