How to Make a Car Maintenance Checklist

March 14, 2012

Car maintenance tasks are too numerous and too important to rely on memory. Use a car maintenance checklist to streamline your car's upkeep.

Completed Checklist

A car maintenance checklist is an easy way to keep you on track in regards to your car maintenance schedule and get the best service from your vehicle. Maintaining a good car maintenance schedule can optimize the value of your car and help prevent expensive repairs. It is also an important aspect of car safety and may avert roadside breakdowns.

Choose the Type of Checklist
There are many options when considering a car maintenance checklist. It should be simple to follow, easy to update, and help you with following your maintenance schedule. The most widely used is a simple booklet, easy to store in your glove box. However, today's technology provides a lot of other options that include PDA's, mobile phones, laptops, on board computers, etc. It's important to consider all options and select a checklist that works best for you.

Segment the Timing of Your Checklist
Segment your checklist into four timetable categories. These segments are monthly, quarterly, twice yearly, and as needed. The "as needed" category is important to track every maintenance activity, even the unforeseen ones.

Fill in the Maintenance Items for Each Segment

Logging should occur monthly, quarterly, and biannually.

Monthly

  • The oil level. Remember to wipe the dipstick first and add if oil is low. Also look for leaks.
  • Hoses and belts. Look for worn or frayed belts. Look for rotten, bulging or brittle hoses. Replace as needed.
  • Tire pressure. Check and compare to tire chart provided by the manufacturer and add air as needed. Inspect for leaks, uneven wear or damage.
  • Coolant. Make sure engine is cool and add if low.

Quarterly or 3,500 Miles

  • Change oil and replace oil filter.
  • Look at battery terminals and cables and check for corrosion. Clean if needed.
  • Check windshield washer fluid and add if needed.
  • Check brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid. If there's a dipstick, make sure to wipe the dipstick first and reinsert to check the level. Add fluid if needed.
  • Using a coolant gauge, check the integrity of the coolant based on seasonal recommendations
  • Remove and check air filter and replace if dirty. Make sure no dirt falls into the intake when removing the old filter.

Biannually (Every 6 Months) or 7,000 Miles

  • Check wiper blades and replace if brittle or worn.
  • Ensure headlights, brake lights, horn, and signals work.
  • Check brakes for wear.
  • Inspect the spare tire to make sure it's inflated.
  • Examine exhaust system looking for damage, rust, or loose parts.
  • Check shock absorbers for wear and oil seepage.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Car Maintenance Log

Keeping a car maintenance log is a great idea. Not only can it improve resale value of your car by a great margin, it can also help keep you organized and on top of required maintenance.

Improved resale value. Buying a used car can be a gamble. You want a car that will be reliable and last long enough to get your money's worth, but if you don't know how well it was maintained, it's hard to spend a large amount of money on an unknown. Showing a detailed log showing that routine maintenance was done regularly goes a long way to prove that your car is in great shape. The buyer knows what they're getting into and may be willing to pay a good deal more since they know exactly what kind of shape the car is in.

More regular maintenance. It can be easy to forget to do basic maintenance jobs especially during busy times of year or during harsh weather. By keeping a detailed maintenance log and a car maintenance checklist, you know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, so you can be sure you're not forgetting anything.

Simplified diagnosis. A detailed log should include dates and mileage as well as a brief description of work done. Receipts and pictures can be included as well if you choose. Should something go wrong with the car, by looking over the log you can help more quickly narrow down potential causes. For example, should the car begin to idle roughly, if you see that spark plugs were replaced only a few thousand miles prior, they are likely not the cause.

How to Choose a Car Maintenance Course that Fits Your Needs

Enrolling in a car maintenance course is a good idea for all car owners. There are professional automobile mechanics to help us, but an informed car owner can make better decision as to what car maintenance or repairers need to be performed.

Types of Car Maintenance Courses
You can enroll in a course online or opt for a physical class in an automobile institution. Online car maintenance courses are easily accessible and save valuable time waiting for lectures or making inconvenient journeys to classrooms. One problem with online car maintenance courses is that on-the-job practical experience is not possible. The physical car maintenance course provides a practical experience for car owners.

Basic Car Maintenance Courses
The basic car maintenance course entails the basic things every car owner needs to know and do in order to keep their car up and running. It does only contains instructions on what to do, but what not to do in the simplest of words for a layman to understand. Although basic car maintenance is documented in the owner's manual of a car, courses further elaborate and simplify the safety precautions and troubleshooting tips that everyone can understand.

Basic car maintenance courses usually include safety procedures that must be observed, such as why it is important to conduct car inspections every 3000 miles, how to change oil and also how to go about basic inspection of tires, check motor vehicle fluids, change wiper blades, change filters and all there is to know about instrument warnings.

Intermediate Car Maintenance Course
Intermediate car maintenance courses instructs on how to tune up car engines, diagnose electrical faults, and conduct wheel alignments and tire rotations. Car owners are taught all the essentials of auto mechanic troubleshooting so as to enable them to fix minor problems themselves, or carryout temporary repair work on their broken down cars until they can have their automobiles checked by a professional mechanic.

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