It’s Time for a Check-Up: Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

We talk a lot about cars around here and which ones are the best, but we thought it would be a good idea to focus a bit on how to ensure that you have a healthy vehicle that will last a long time.

We think of a car kind of like a person and everyone needs a check-up and a car is no exception. Here is a simple vehicle maintenance checklist that will ensure the health and longevity of your car.

Fuel Filter

fuel filterThe fuel filter is one of the most important things in a car and it is one that is easily overlooked when it is comes time to service your car. The fuel filter is continuously on duty whenever your car is running making it one of the most worked items under the hood. Its job is to help prevent impurities from clogging injectors, so over time the filter will need to be replaced.

You can locate the fuel filter beneath the hood, undercarriage or possibly inside the fuel tank itself. When you are ready to replace the filter be sure to crimp the fuel lines or you will be greeted with a rather large mess. You will want to replace the fuel filter every 2 years or 24,000 miles.

Power Steering Fluid

power steering fluid 2A simple addition to you vehicle maintenance checklist is going to be checking the power steering fluid level. It does not get much easier than this, but it is still a very important thing to check and replenish as needed. Power steering fluid lubricates the car’s system and keeps the steering to feel smooth and consistent. If you don’t find a need to check the power steering on a regular basis do at least be sure to check it at every regularly scheduled oil change.

All you have to do to is periodically check the fluid level by taking a quick glance at the reservoir or by using the dipstick inside of it. Be sure to only add the power steering fluid that is suggested by the manufacturer of your car to avoid any issues down the road. We also suggest speaking to a technician if you notice that the fluid level drops considerably, frequently or if you feel surges of resistance as you turn the wheel.


car batteryYou typically won’t give your battery much attention until you try to start your car one day to find that it has kicked the bucket. It certainly is a good idea to periodically check the battery as well as clean the terminals, check the connection and make sure that the charging system is functioning properly. A quick check under the hood every few months is all you need to do those simple things.

A typical battery will last you around 4 to 5 years before needing to be replaced as long as you perform the simple steps we just mentioned. There are a couple of important things that you will need to consider to ensure that you are doing this the right way. Be sure to use only the battery that matches the specs for your vehicle at the very least since getting a battery that is less or more powerful than what your car can handle may lead to further issues down the road. You may also want to think about upgrading to advanced technology batteries that will have a longer life and more consistent performance.

Air Filter

air filterThe air filter is another out of sight out of mind component, but no less important than its more visible counterparts. The air filter is an essential part in the performance of the engine and is crucial to its health. This filter allows air to reach the engine as well as filtering out contaminants that may harm your vehicle. It is just a little thing, but it has a big and important job to do.

You will want to replace the air filter every 12 months, 12,000 miles or sooner if need be. Be aware of the recommendations from the car manufacturer when replacing the air filter and its accompanying components. It is also a good idea to replace the PCV valve and oxygen sensor when switching out the air filter if your car has them.

Automatic Transmission Fluid and Filter

RTV-trans-filtersIn vehicles with conventional automatic gearboxes the transmission fluid is of utmost importance and function. Transmission fluid helps to combat friction and keeps everything within a safe temperature during use. Basically what we are saying is that fluid is to transmissions what oil is to engines.

It is important to check the fluids and top them off regularly because ignoring them may lead to a trip to the mechanic and some pretty hefty repair bills. Checking the transmission fluids is super easy though and can be done quickly. It is recommended that the transmission fluid and its filter be completely changed out every 2 year of 24,000 miles as long as you are keeping up on it in between that time. As always we stress that you check the owner’s manual to see if there is a certain type of fluid or filter needed.

Spark Plugs

Spark-plug-2Spark plugs are super important little guys and help to provide combustion in the engine. The plugs fire up a mixture of air and fuel in each cylinder to provide a spark in the engine for power. Some vehicles have spark plugs that work alone or in pairs.

Some cars that have cleaner burning engines and newer more advanced spark plug constructions require less maintenance and last longer, but even those guys will eventually need to be replaced just the same as regular plugs. Most mechanics suggest that you change your spark plugs every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. There are a few other indicators that it is time to change your spark plugs even if it is not time based upon your vehicles mileage. Take note if you notice that your mileage seems to be suffering, your engine is running poorly or if you fail an emissions test. If any of these things happen go ahead and check your spark plugs and their wiring.