The Fix-It Club is built on the idea that consumer items will last longer if you perform basic maintenance and simple repairs. We purchased our current car new and have followed these car maintenance tips. It now has more than 256,000 miles on its odometer and still runs strong! Here are 15 car maintenance things you can do to keep your car running smoother, longer, and more efficiently forever.
- Check the antifreeze/coolant level weekly. Some cars have transparent reservoirs with level markings. Fill to the level marking in the reservoir with 50/50 solution of antifreeze and water.
- Inspect belts and hoses monthly. Replace worn, glazed, or frayed belts. Tighten them when more than ½” of slack can be depressed between the pulleys. Vehicles with spring-loaded belt tensioners require no adjustment. Replace bulging, rotten, or brittle hoses and tighten the clamps. If a hose looks bad, or feels too soft or too hard, it should be replaced.
- Check transmission fluid monthly. Do this while the engine is warm and running and with the parking brake on. Shift to drive, then to park. Remove the dipstick, wipe it dry, inert it, and remove it again. Add the approved type of fluid, if needed. Do not overfill!
- Check brake fluid monthly. First, wipe dirt from the brake master cylinder reservoir lid. Pry off the retainer clip and remove the lid or unscrew the plastic lid, depending on which type your vehicle has. If you need fluid, add the approved type and check for possible leaks throughout the system. Fill to the mark on the reservoir. Caution: Do not overfill!
- Check the power steering fluid level once per month. Simply remove the reservoir dipstick. If the level is down, add fluid and inspect the pump and hoses for leaks.
- Check the air filter every other month. Replace it when it’s dirty or as part of a tune-up. It’s easy to reach, right under the big metal “lid” in a carbureted engine; or in a rectangular box at the forward end of the art duct hose assembly.
- Check oil every other fill-up. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Insert it fully and remove it again. If it’s low, add oil. To maintain peak performance, change oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. Replace the oil filter with every oil change.
- Keep the windshield washer fluid reservoir full. When topping off, use some windshield washer fluid on a rag to clean off the wiper blades. In winter months, pay attention to the freezing point of the washer fluid.
- Check your car’s battery with every oil change. Use extreme caution when handling a battery because it can produce explosive gases. Do not smoke, create a spark, or light a match near a battery, and always wear protective glasses and gloves. Cables should be attached securely and be free of corrosion. If the battery has filler holes, add only clear, odorless drinking water.
- Inspect the windshield wiper blades whenever you can your windshield. Don’t wait until rubber is worn or brittle to replace the!. Wiper blades should be replaced at least once per year, and more often if smearing or chattering occurs. Be smart about car maintenance!
- Be sure all of your car’s lights are clean and working. Check brake lights, turn signals, and emergency flashers, too. Keep spare bulbs and fuses in your vehicle.
- Keep tires inflated to the recommended pressure and check for tire wear. It helps if you own your own tire gauge. Check the tires regularly for cuts, bulges, and excessive tread wear. Uneven wear indicates tires are misaligned or out of balance. Keep a record of tire rotation. Rotate at the first 5,000 miles and every 7,500 miles thereafter.
- Look for signs of oil seepage on shock absorbers. Test the shock action by bouncing the car up and down. The car should stop bouncing when you step back. Worn or leaking shocks should be replaced. Always replace shock absorbers in pairs.
- Look underneath the car for loose or broken exhaust clamps and supports. Check for holes in the muffler or pipes. Replace rusted or damaged parts. Have emission checked at least once per year for compliance with local laws.
- Take good care of your car and it will take care of you! More car maintenance and repair instructions are available free online on the Fix-It Club's Car Repairs section.
Take good care of your car with these easy car maintenance tips and it will take care of you!
--Dan "The Fix-It Man" Ramsey