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Interactive Checklists

Car Maintenance Schedule

Category: Automotive
This check list is in the following categories:
This checklist is a timeline of auto maintenance and repairs required for most vehicles and shows how often the tasks should be performed.

These are typical car maintenance repairs and items that should be checked or replaced on a regular basis.

IMPORTANT! Check your owner's manual for maintenance requirements specific to your vehicle.

  • Every 3,000 miles (or every 4 months)
  • Tire pressure
    Keep the pressure of the tire at the recommended pressure according to the tire manufacturer or the car manufacturer. Usually they will agree on the pressure but never exceed the maximum the tire manufacturer has specified.
  • Windshield wiper fluid
    Consider using a windshield treatment (applied regularly) such as Rain-X that will help rain bead off the windshield as you drive.
  • Oil change
    If you have synthetic oil you may not need to change it so often. Also, if you do, do not replace it with standard oil as the two do not mix.
  • Every 6,000 miles
  • Rotate tires
  • Lube
    How often you need to add grease and lubrication to various points on the car engine can vary from one car to the next. Your mechanic can let you know when this is needed for your vehicle.
  • Air filter
  • Fan belts & hoses
    Look for rough spots in the belt -- nicks, fraying parts, cracking are all signs of a belt that needs replacement. Belts should wiggle just a bit but if they are too lose will slip and you will likely hear a squealing noise. Always check with a mechanic before adjusting the tension of the belt.
  • Wheel alignment
    You may feel the car pull to the right or left. Also look for unevenly worn tread on the tires.
  • Every 12,000 miles (or once a year)
  • Suspension system (ball joints, shocks, and struts)
  • Transmission oil
    This is the same as transmission fluid.
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Check brakes (may need to replace rotors or brake pads)
    Rotor testing is best tested and done by a professional service with accurate measurement tools. Brake pads will make a squealing noise purposely built into them when they are getting worn.
  • Every 3 years
  • Muffler and exhaust system
  • Replace battery
    This depends on the type of battery and length of its expected life.
  • Tune-up (spark plugs and timing)
  • Radiator
  • Every 5 years
  • Service transmission
  • Once a month or more frequently
  • Check the level of coolant
    When you have your car serviced, make sure that the cooling system is checked and the temperature of the fluid is tested.

    If you are seeing signs of overheating, remove the radiator cap and check the level of fluid. Some cars have a coolant recovery reservoir with a gauge so you can see how much fluid is in the system. Running out of coolant is a sure way to lose an engine to overheating. You can drive a car for a short distance if it is mildly overheating but it isn't recommended. If it is overheating, turn on the heater on high. The heater is a radiator on the inside of the car and should help cool the engine if there is enough coolant to supply the heater.

    It is possible that the thermostat is not accurate and needs to be replaced.

There are other parts of a car's engine that can stop working at anytime (for example, the starter or fuel pump.) There is no way to know when this might happen. It is best to continue regular car maintenance and thereby reduce unexpected breakdowns and unnecessary wear and tear.
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Note: Although these checklists have been carefully prepared by individuals who are experts in the subject, we do not suggest the information be used as a substitute for legal, medical, or financial advice. Always consult a professional who understands your specific situation.