Preventative maintenance involves a series of tasks that must be performed on your vehicle in order to extend its lifespan, keep you and your passengers safe while driving, keep it running efficiently, and save money (especially at the gas pump). Vehicle maintenance is typically performed in one of two ways:
- Maintenance that is based on the vehicle’s mileage
- maintenance that is regularly scheduled
To ensure that these tasks are performed at the proper intervals, you should read your owner’s manual that you received when you purchased your vehicle from the dealer. In most cases, the maintenance will be based on weekly, monthly, and mileage-based schedules.
Weekly Preventative Maintenance
These are the simpler tasks, most of which you can do when before and after filling up your gas tank. Check your coolant and oil levels, and your tire pressure (and tread depth if you have the proper gauge). Inspect your windshield wipers and wiper blades and make sure the washer fluid reservoir is topped off. Be sure that you check your brake, head, and tail lights and clean them off. Finally, do a “bounce test” on your shock absorbers in order to determine if they are leaking or worn out.
Monthly Preventative Maintenance
These tasks are a little more detailed but should still be performed no less than once a month. Start by checking the condition of all belts and hoses. If your belts have a half inch of slack or more and if your hoses are brittle, bulging, or rotting, it’s time to replace these. Check your engine oil and transmission fluid levels using the appropriate dipstick and then top them off as needed. Also, check your brake fluid level. Look at your air filter and replace it if it is dirty and you cannot see light through it. Finally, do not overfill any of the above fluids.
Mileage-Based Preventative Maintenance
The best way to see what needs to be done at specific mileage intervals is to get out your owner’s manual and read it. These tasks should not be neglected as they are critical to the lifespan and operation of your vehicle. If you are a skilled DIY’er, you may be able to perform some of these yourself. However, you run the risk of voiding your warranty. These more complex tasks should be entrusted to an auto repair shop technician to ensure they are done properly.