Courtesy of the Automotive Service Association
The following simple and inexpensive preventive checks will greatly extend the life of the vehicle, ensure safer operation and even benefit the environment.
Always consult your owner’s manual for individual service schedules because maintenance requirements vary by manufacturer.
- Always consult your owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil filter changed regularly – every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
- Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission/transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.
- Check tire inflation. Under-inflated tires can result in a loss of fuel efficiency. This is the least expensive form of preventive and safety maintenance. Tires should be checked once a month.
- Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or plugged/restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
- Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.
- Check battery cables and posts for corrosion and clean them as needed. The battery fluid also should be checked and filled if it is low, unless it is a maintenance-free battery.
- Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals, and brake and taillights.
- Check windshield washer blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them at least once a year, or sooner if streaking begins.
- Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.
- Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.
Service Interval Schedule
|Vehicle System or Component||Check Monthly||Check Every 3,000 Miles|
|Automatic Transmission Fluid|
Check level with engine running and transmission in park. If low, add type of ATF specified in owners’ manual and/or on dipstick. For best results change every two years or 24,000 miles.
|Battery and Cables|
Battery should be securely mounted. Battery connections should be clean, tight and corrosion-free. If your car’s battery is three years old or more, it should be replaced.
Check for looseness, cracks or glazing. Replace V-belts every four years/36,000 miles. Replace serpentine belts every four years/50,000 miles, or sooner if needed. Replace belt per interval specified in owner’s manual. Typically, this is at 60,000 miles. Not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage.
|Brakes and Brake Fluid|
For best results, have the entire brake system – including brake linings – inspected at every other oil change.
|Cabin Air Filter|
Replace annually, more often in areas with heavy airborne contaminants
Many newer cars are lubed-for-life, some still require this service. Replacement steering and suspension components require periodic lubrication.
|Check Engine Light On|
If light comes on while driving or remains on, your engine may have an emissions or sensor problem and should be checked by a professional technician. If light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked immediately to prevent catalytic converter damage.
Check level at reservoir. Do not open hot radiator cap. If low, add 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water.
|Engine Air Filter|
Replace yearly, or when dirty. Inspect annually, more often if driving and road conditions dictate.
|Engine Oil and Filter|
Check level with engine off at every fill up. Change oil and filter every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Use specified oil grade and weight.
Inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. If you suspect a problem, have it inspected immediately by a professional technician.
On carbureted cars, replace the filter once a year. On cars with fuel injection, replace the filter every two years or 24,000 miles.
Inspect for leaks, cracks or bulges, sponginess, brittleness and swelling. Replace hoses at lease every four years.
Replace bulb immediately if light is out.
|Power Steering Fluid|
Check the fluid with the car warmed up. Add approved type if low. If regular topping off is required, have system inspected for leaks.
|Shock Absorbers and Struts|
Inspect for leaks, damage and loose mounting hardware. Replace if worn, damaged or leaking. Have checked by a professional at lease once a year.
|Tire Inflation and Condition|
Inflate tires to recommended pressure. Replace tires if worn or damaged. Remember to check the spare. Check pressure of all tires including the spare. Check tread for wear and for cuts or bruised along the sidewalls.
|Windshield Washer Fluid|
Check level every other fill up. Some vehicles have two reservoirs. Do not use water. Use waster fluid only.
Replace when streaking or chattering.