Importance of Following an Auto Maintenance Schedule

February 22, 2012

Save hundreds of dollars a year by keeping an auto maintenance schedule comprised of simple do-it-yourself checks and procedures.

Auto Maintenance

Following an auto maintenance schedule can help keep your vehicle reliable and maintain its resale value. Maintenance schedules are developed by each manufacturer to highlight the recommended minimum maintenance requirements for a particular model or trim level. In most cases, completing this minimum recommended maintenance is necessary to keep a vehicle's warranty in good standing.

If, for any reason, your maintenance history does not meet or exceed the recommended minimums, you may have warranty claims denied by the manufacturer. If this happens, you may have to pay out of pocket for costly repairs. Regularly completing scheduled maintenance items like oil changes, filter changes and tune-ups can also keep your vehicle performing smoothly and getting good fuel economy.

Perhaps the most important reason to following an auto maintenance schedule is to preserve the resale value of your vehicle. While all vehicles depreciate on an ongoing basis, completing recommended maintenance can help raise the resale value of your vehicle. Whether you foresee selling to a dealership or private party, having proof of all completed maintenance on the vehicle can increase the value of your vehicle. Some car buyers are fanatical about maintenance, and closely following an auto maintenance schedule will appease them. From the dealership's end, a vehicle with a good maintenance record is easier to make a certified pre-owned vehicle. Whether you have scheduled maintenance completed at the dealership or an independent mechanic, be sure to save all documentation relating to maintenance items and other repairs in order to keep the warranty intact and raise the resale value of the vehicle.

Automotive Maintenance Services You Can Perform Yourself

The good news about most maintenance work is that it can be done quite easily at home for a substantial savings compared to what a shop would charge. In most cases it doesn't even take much time.

Oil and Filter Change
Changing your oil and oil filter is one of the most common and easiest maintenance jobs you can do yourself, requiring only simple tools and about 10 to 20 minutes of your time. Regular oil changes are invaluable to the life of your engine and are quite possibly one of the most important maintenance jobs you can perform.

Ignition System Maintenance
Spark plugs are very easy to replace, requiring only a spark plug socket and ratchet, and about five minutes of your time. In older cars, maintenance of the ignition system may also include replacement of spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor. None of these are complex, and are easy replaced in a few minutes.

Cooling System Maintenance
Most modern cooling systems and coolant only require replacement every 100,000 to 200,000 miles. When refilling however, it is important to use only distilled water with a concentrated coolant, in order to prevent corrosion and mineral blockage. Always make sure to properly bleed the system after replacing coolant, as air bubbles can dramatically reduce cooling system ability.

Air Filter Replacement
Replacing your intake system's air filter is one of the easiest maintenance jobs you can do. In most cases it requires only a screwdriver, and about two minutes to replace. The benefits can include increases in power and MPG.

Brake Rotor and Pad Replacement
Brake pads and rotors are a common wear item on most cars, and vital to safe operation of your car. Both disc and drum systems can be serviced at home with only minimal tools, but it is important to make sure to replace brake fluid and bleed air from the system after hard use or when you change your pads and shoes.

Tire Pressure Check
Keeping your tires inflated is another key part to car maintenance. This may be the easiest thing on the list to do since all you need is a pump. If you don't have one, you can head over to a gas station and they have air stations, often free. Keeping your tires to full capacity and pressure will help increase your fuel efficiency by a couple percent, and that saves money. Every little bit counts, and all these savings will add up.

Tire Rotation
Rotating your tires can help increase the life and mileage you get out of your tires by rotating the more heavily worn tires with those that are less worn. Tire rotation requires only a lug wrench, jack and stands, and can be done in only a few minutes.

Transmission Fluid Change
Transmission fluid can be changed almost as easily as your engine oil and is vital to smooth operation and reduced wear of your transmission. It is also one of the most commonly forgotten maintenance items. Clean transmission fluid can greatly improve shifting feel and precision on automatic transmission cars.

Car Wash
Another part of car maintenance is having your car washed. Clean the outside of your car, vacuum the inside, etc. Not only does this make your car look great, but it helps keep your car from wearing away its paint due to corrosion. It also will help you if you decide to sell your car and having a great paint job can increase the value.

If you are not afraid of a little dirt and are comfortable with basic tools, you can do the bulk of regular maintenance yourself for less money and time than you think.