Owning a car is a big responsibility, and to keep it running its best, it’s important that you keep up with regular routine maintenance. Certain things need to be checked and changed more often than others if you want your car to go as far as it can with no problems. If you aren’t sure where to start, the following list is a good place to begin. Note: this is a guideline only. If you notice something is off with your car, take it into a mechanic or shop immediately, even if it hasn’t been that long since you last had it serviced.
Each month, you should do basic checks on the things that keep your car moving. Using a gauge, check your tire pressure, and adjust it according to your owner’s manual’s recommended pressure levels for your vehicle. Keep an eye on your tires and if you notice one is consistently losing pressure, take it in to check for a nail or other debris that could have caused a puncture. Monitor your oil level, even if it isn’t time to have it changed just yet. You should always watch your coolant or antifreeze, depending on the time of year. Engines with low levels of coolant can quickly overheat in the summer, causing expensive damage. It’s also not a bad idea to give your car a monthly wash and vacuum to keep it looking its best and preserve both your paint job and your interior.
Every 3 Months
While there’s little consensus as to exactly how often you should change your oil, you should definitely do it no more often than every three months. The usual recommendation of 3,000 miles has been shown to be excessive, but if you travel often or have a long commute, you could wrack up as many as 5,000 miles in three months, in which case you’ll probably need an oil change. (Consult your owner’s manual if you’re ever in doubt.) When you get your oil changed, go ahead and get all of your other fluid levels checked as well, including your windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and battery fluid.
Every 6 Months
Twice a year, check up on those things that you might not think about from day to day. Have your tires rotated, so that they wear evenly and will be less likely to go flat. Change your wiper blades if they’ve started to streak-- you may be able to go longer than six months if you don’t see a lot of rain or snow, but twice yearly is a good rule of thumb. You should also check your spare tire to ensure that it’s still in good condition if you should ever need it. Go through your emergency kit and make sure that any batteries are still working and medicines are still within their use-by date.
If it helps, create a checklist to keep in your car of the important maintenance procedures with dates of when they should be performed. Checking them off can give you a handy sheet of when and what your've done to your car this year.