Maintenance Tips

These tips are from the Car Care Council
Download the PDF here.

Check Monthly

Check Engine Light On
Cleaning
Lights
Tire Inflation and Condition
Windshield Washer Fluid

Check every 3 months/
3,000 miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Battery and Cables
Belts
Check Engine Light On
Engine Air Filter
Engine Oil and Filter
Exhaust
Fuel Filter
Hoses
Lights
Power Steering Fluid
Tire Inflation and Condition
Windshield Washer Fluid

Check every 6 months/
6,000 miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Battery and Cables
Belts
Chassis Lubrication
Check Engine Light On
Polish
Engine Air Filter
Engine Oil and Filter
Exhaust
Fuel Filter
Hoses
Lights
Power Steering Fluid
Tire Inflation and Condition
Windshield Washer Fluid
Wiper Blades

Check every 9 months/
9,000 miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Battery and Cables
Belts
Check Engine Light On
Engine Air Filter
Engine Oil and Filter
Exhaust
Fuel Filter
Hoses
Lights
Power Steering Fluid
Tire Inflation and Condition
Windshield Washer Fluid


Check every 12 months/
12,000 miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Battery and Cables
Belts
Brakes
Cabin Air Filter
Chassis Lubrication
Check Engine Light On
Polish
Coolant (Antifreeze)
Engine Air Filter
Engine Oil and Filter
Exhaust
Fuel Filter
Hoses
Lights
Power Steering Fluid
Spark Plugs
Steering and Suspension
Tire Inflation and Condition
Windshield Washer Fluid

Wiper Blade


Automatic Transmission Fluid

Check fluid level with engine running and transmission in park. If low, add the type of automatic transmission fluid specified in the owner’s manual and/or on dipstick. For maximum performance, change every two years or 24,000 miles, or as directed in owner’s manual.


Battery and Cables

Battery should be securely mounted. Battery connection should be clean, tight and corrosion free. If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary.


Belts

Check V-belts and serpentine belts for looseness and condition. Replace when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Replace timing belt per interval specified in owner’s manual. Typically this is 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage.


Brakes

Check the entire brake system every year, including brake linings, rotors and drums.


Cabin Air Filter

Replace annually, or more often in areas with heavy airborne contaminants or whenever heating or cooling efficiency is reduced.


Chassis Lubrication

Many newer cars are lubed-for-life; some still require this service. Check owner’s manual. Replacement steering and suspension components may require periodic lubrication.


Check Engine Light On

If light comes on while driving or remains on, your vehicle may have an emissions or sensor problem and should be analyzed. If light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked immediately to prevent catalytic converter damage.


Cleaning & Polishing

To prevent stripping the vehicle’s wax finish, use only automotive car wash products, not dishwashing liquids. Polish at least twice a year to maintain and protect the finish.


Coolant (Antifreeze)

Check level at reservoir. Never open a hot radiator cap. If low, add 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water. Change coolant annually on most vehicles.


Engine Air Filter

Inspect filter at each oil change. Replace annually or when leaking, torn, water or oil soaked, dirty or showing other signs of wear.


Engine Oil and Filter

Check level with engine off at every fill up. For maximum engine life, change oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles or as directed in your owner’s manual. Use specified oil grade and weight.

The Car Care Council recommends changing your vehicle’s engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on the vehicle’s make and model, how you drive the vehicle and the conditions in under which you drive. Always consult the owner’s manual.


Exhaust

Inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.


Fuel Filter

Inspect filter at each oil change. Replace if restricted or water contaminated or once a year on cars with carburetors. On cars with fuel injection, replace filter every two years or 24,000 miles.


Hoses

Inspect hoses at each oil change and replace when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen or restricted.


Lights

Replace bulb immediately if light is out. Check fuses first.


Oxygen Sensor

Replace at interval as recommended in owner’s manual or when other conditions dictate, such as failing an emissions test. Some cars have an oxygen sensor replacement light that appears when oxygen sensor replacement is needed. 1996 and newer cars have more than one oxygen sensor.


Power Steering Fluid

Check the fluid with the car warmed up. Add correct type of fluid if low. If frequent topping off is required, inspect for leaks and replace if contaminated.


Spark Plugs

Typical replacement intervals range between 30,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the vehicle and type of spark plug. Always consult your owner’s manual for your specific vehicle.


Steering and Suspension

Inspect system annually, including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components. Replace if leaks, damage and loose mounting hardware are found. Symptoms of worn suspension include uneven tire wear and excessive bouncing after bumps.


Tire Inflation and Condition

Check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, at every oil change. Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts or bruises along the sidewalls. Inflate tires and maintain at recommended pressure. Replace tires if worn or damaged.


Windshield Washer Fluid

Check fluid level monthly. Some vehicles have two reservoirs. Do not use water. Use washer fluid only.


Wiper Blades

Replace every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.