How to Take Care of Your Car: 11 Steps for a Smooth Maintenance Plan

Your car is your second home because you spend so much time in it. It’s important to take care of this investment by following car maintenance guidelines and making sure that the car gets regular checkups at a service center. Car maintenance can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with these 11 steps for a smooth car maintenance plan!

– Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Read any car manuals and find out what the car needs for maintenance, then schedule an appointment at a service center when it’s due.

– Keep up with routine car care by checking fluids (oil, gas) periodically, changing air filters regularly, rotating tires as directed in car manuals, and keeping car surfaces clean.

– Diagnose car problems by following these three steps:

  • Step one is to try the temporary fix (such as jacking up a car with a jack) and see if that fixes it;
  • Step two is to make sure you’ve ruled out any other possible causes for the problem before you do any car repair, and
  • Step three is to call a service center or auto mechanic if the temporary fix doesn’t work.

– Save money by doing car maintenance yourself! If you know how to find out what car parts need to be replaced and order them in advance so they are ready when your car needs its next scheduled checkup. You can also save money by going car shopping on the Internet.

– Have someone you trust check your car for any problems before a car purchase or trade-in to make sure there are no surprises waiting in store.

– Maintain your engine by changing oil every three months or every 5000 miles of driving (whichever comes first). You can change this interval depending on how often you drive – the car’s manual will have a recommendation.

– Always check the car fluids to ensure they are at the right levels and not leaking. Your car should come with a list of recommended intervals for checking each fluid level, but you can also find this information online or in your car’s manual (e.g., every two weeks).

– Keep car tires properly inflated to reduce the car’s fuel consumption and improve safety. Check your car owner’s manual or consult an auto service professional for recommended tire pressure levels.

– Get a tune-up every 12 months or as advised by your car manufacturer, whichever comes first. This will ensure that all of the car’s parts are working properly.

– Invest in-car accessories to keep your car safe on the open road and ensure you get home safely after a car accident, such as an emergency kit (e.g., blanket, flashlight), jumper cables, spare tire with jack, ice scraper/brush combo tool or snow brush & shovel for winter safety.

– Be sure to get car insurance through your car’s manufacturer or an independent provider (i.e., Geico). This will protect you in the event of a car accident and ensure that you have access to needed car repairs after it happens.*

– Schedule regular car maintenance with experts, such as a certified mechanic or car service center.

– Consider car rentals to save money on monthly car payments, gas, and car maintenance costs.

– Make sure your car is equipped with the proper tools and equipment for safe driving in inclement weather conditions, including windshield wipers, an ice scraper or snow brush, emergency flares (for breakdowns), jumper cables/a battery booster pack, tire chains if needed, and a winter blanket/emergency kit.

– Check your car’s tire pressure regularly, including before a major trip if possible. Low tires are very dangerous in bad weather conditions and can lead to blowouts or skids on the roadways that could result in injury or even death for you and others around you.

– Keep an emergency car kit with you at all times. You should have car-specific items, such as a spare tire or jumper cables, and common emergency supplies like bottled water and non-perishable food items in case of an accident or breakdown in bad weather conditions.

– If any fluids are leaking from your car, take it to the mechanic right away for evaluation and repairs.

– Keep car maintenance records in your car’s glove compartment. This will make it easier for you and the mechanic to find problems that need to be addressed with no guesswork involved, saving time and money on potential repairs.

– If you are using a rental car or another person’s car, check under the hood before taking off to identify any car maintenance problems.

-Keep the car clean on a regular basis. Wipe down both the inside and outside of your car after every use to help keep dirt from accumulating in hard-to-reach places that require you to go through extensive prodding or potentially damaging parts during an inspection

-Keep tires properly inflated. Inflate car tire pressure to the car manufacturer’s recommended level, which can be found on a sticker in your car’s doorjamb or in the owner’s manual

-Get regular oil changes every three months or as instructed by the car manufacturer

-Make sure all fluids are topped off and not leaking. Check car fluids every two weeks or as instructed by your car manufacturer, whichever comes first

-Do not forget the car battery! Keep both terminals clean and tight to ensure the good electrical flow

-Keep car trunk organized so you can find things easily in an emergency situation

-Keep car windows clean and use a winter car cover to protect your car from the elements

-Get rid of any unwanted items in the car, such as old food wrappers or trash bags. This will keep it looking neat for when you make friends on car rides

-Take advantage of remote start technology if available so that you don’t have to waste time hand-warming the car before getting in and driving off

Before 30,000 Miles

– Change car’s engine oil and filters

-Replace car’s air filter; check brake pad wear, replace if necessary

-Inspect car battery terminals for corrosion. If corroded, clean or replace the terminal posts as needed.

Every 40,000 Miles or Every Year*

– Have your car’s car’s cooling system inspected and serviced

– In car with manual transmission, change the car’s oil every 15000 miles or as instructed by car manufacturer for that car.

-In car with automatic transmission, have your car’s fluid levels checked at each service visit.*

Every 60,000 Miles*

– Change car’s car’s oil and filter

-In car with manual transmission, replace the car’s brake pads

-In car with automatic transmission, check and change fluid levels every 30,000 miles or as instructed by car manufacturer for that car*

Every 90,000 Miles*

– Replace your car’s timing belt

*Depending on car manufacturer’s recommendations

Key Takeaway: Car maintenance is a big responsibility. Follow your car’s factory recommendations, and build up from there to create an individualized car maintenance schedule that makes sense for you. You can put as much effort into maintaining your car as you want!

Now go back to the car maintenance checklist and add some numbers to show how often car maintenance is required.

1. What are your thoughts on automobile maintenance?

It’s unfortunate to hear that many people don’t know the basics about their car. Ignorance can often lead to dangerous situations where a driver’s life is at risk because they simply do not know what is safe for driving – and sometimes not even for themselves (ie, essential safety equipment). You should be aware of your brake pads, brakes fluids, belts and hoses, tires-if bald you’ll need new tires soon, battery condition check (and charge), oil level check-whether OK or low mixed with engine coolant/distilled water 50/50 in proper ratio and light intervals. This will help avoid just running out of gas on the highway.

2. Do you look at posting about car issues before they happen or maintain the “ignorance is bliss” mentality? 

If you maintain the “ignore” approach, eventually your car will be breaking down and you’ll have no clue which part to replace. That’s when your Ignoring-self comes in and says “shut up idiot!” When there’s a problem with your car, it’s always best to consult those who know about cars before taking any drastic measures that may end up costing more than just paying for honest diagnostics.
It is also important to mention that you should always keep a close eye on how much gas and oil is being used whenever possible so maintenance issues like damage or dirty filters can be spotted as early as possible. For some helpful tips on how to do this, feel free to visit anytime.

3. Have you ever fixed something that was wrong with your car without calling a professional to do it for you? 

Yes. While I don’t recommend this for everyone, many people can jump in and fix an issue themselves.
The key to doing this is to make sure that you find out the real problem that’s causing your car not to work and then look at the differences in the cost of parts for each situation. The best way is usually just trying one thing by taking it apart or reading about what it does – if it’s a small component with either low or no moving parts, then you might be able to get away with either re-seating or replacing it. If you buy something wrong though, that will be very expensive (and more importantly time-consuming) so make sure you are confident about what you’re picking up!

4. What should we be checking when looking at our cars for any potential issues?

Check the tires for uneven wear, excessively low or high tire pressure, and leaks.
Agree with a comment that was made on another answer to this question about being cautious of battery corrosion as well. Oil changes should also be done every 6 months to keep your engine running smoothly and efficiently.
Also recommend checking the frame as rust can lead to poor performance issues or worse!
Another important thing is making sure there are no overheating issues taking place by checking the radiator fluid level and topping it off if necessary. Lastly, make sure you’re oil changed regularly–as mentioned above–but also keep an eye out for major problems like simple things like brakes that have gone rusty too!