Car ownership doesn’t just start and stop with sending your vehicle to the dealership for its preventative maintenance service (PMS). There are other things you need to check on your own to ensure that you have a reliable and functional vehicle. Here is a quick list of things that you need to check on every month to ensure that your vehicle is always in working order.
Oil is the blood of your engine and as such you will need to check on your engine’s oil every month. This is done to ensure that your vehicle’s motor is in top condition and that there are no leaks. If you find that your vehicle does have engine oil leaks make sure that you have them addressed immediately as too little oil in your motor can lead to some hefty repair bills later on. If, however, you find yourself in a bit of a financial pinch and can’t immediately afford a repair you can choose to keep topping off your engine with more oil in the meantime. With that said, we still highly recommend you have the leak repaired immediately to help save you from bigger problems down the road.
This applies to your coolant hoses, but make sure that you check on them every month. Check if they are bulging, rotten, or brittle. This could be a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle or that your hoses have reached the end of their lifespan. A hose replacement now is still better than a major problem later on.
Make sure your belts are in order especially if your vehicle still utilizes a timing belt. If the timing belt snaps it could lead to costly repairs to your engine later on. The same can be said for your accessory belts, if this belt breaks it could lead to your air conditioning not working, electric accessories not working, or worse an overheating problem. This is why it is always a good idea to check on your belts regularly.
Tire pressure and tires
Make sure that you check on your tires and their air pressures at least once a month. You can do this by visiting your local gasoline station as they offer the service of inflating your tires for free. During this period you can also examine your tires while they are being pumped up with air. Conversely, you can also have the tire inspection done when you go for an alignment. Either way, it’s still best to check on your tires on a regular basis as they are your only contact patch with the road.
Another important fluid to take note of on a monthly basis is your engine’s coolant. Without it, your engine will overheat. Make sure to check if your coolant level remains the same or if it goes down over time as it could mean that there is a leak in your cooling system. If there is a leak, we recommend you bring your vehicle to a service center to have it checked, otherwise keep topping it off until your budget permits for a repair.
Your engine needs three things in order to work properly, spark, fuel, and air. If your engine isn’t getting the right amount of air or enough clean air combustion can’t happen properly. This is why you will need to check on your air filter every month as it is also the first line of defense in preventing foreign objects from entering your engine. With that in mind, inspecting your air filter on a monthly basis is important as it lets your engine breathe properly and operate smoothly. If you find that your filter has become clogged or is dirty it is best to replace it as soon as possible.
Every 3 months
Oil and oil filter
As oil is the blood of your engine, it needs transfusions every now and then in order for it to function properly this is why you should get an only change every so often. While the three-month oil change rule doesn’t need to be strictly followed it is still best to follow your car’s owner’s manual to see when an oil change is needed, either by date or by milage.
Windshield washer fluid
An unsung hero in your car is the windshield washing fluid. This fluid helps you maintain the vision of the road in conjunction with your wipers. The fluid also acts as a lubricant for the wipers so that they don’t scratch your windshield. This is why you need to check it every three months to make sure you always have enough fluid. Make sure to refill with windshield washing fluid if you find that the levels are low.
Power steering fluid
While most vehicles on the market have already transitioned into electronic power steering, some older models still utilize a hydraulic power steering system. With that in mind, if you have a vehicle that still uses this system, make sure to check that your power steering fluid is topped up and that there are no leaks in the system. Make sure to also check on the color of the power steering fluid, as this could indicate that it is time for a flush or a change in the fluid.
Transmission fluid applies to both automatic or manual transmission vehicles. This is what protects the gears and keeps them lubricated at all times. If possible at least have the fluids checked every three months or add more fluid if you think the level is too low. Making sure that you have the right amount of fluid will ensure that your transmission runs smoothly and will be protected for a longer amount of time.
A standard automotive battery will have a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years depending on your driving style and conditions. With that said, if you want to prolong its life make sure that your battery terminals are clean and not corroded. This will ensure a cleaner path into your vehicle and back to your battery when it comes time to recharge it.
Checking your lights is a relatively quick process all you have to do is make sure that all the bulbs are working. To do this you can simply turn on your headlights and hazards to see if everything is working properly. If you notice if any of the bulbs are burnt out or have failed, we highly recommend replacing them immediately. When it comes to checking your brake and reverse lights, this is a tricky process to do on your own. For this process, we highly recommend getting a friend to help you by putting the car into reverse and holding it steady with the brakes. It’s two birds with one stone as you can check them both. If any of the lights are weak or have already failed, we suggest replacing them immediately.
Every 6 months
A feature that is often overlooked by drivers is your windshield wipers. These like any other part of your vehicle has a finite lifespan and as such need to be regularly checked on to see if a replacement is needed. Make sure you watch out for a few signs that your wiper blades give off when it’s time for them to be replaced. These typically come in the form of noise while in use, inefficiency when wiping your windshield, or visual cracks in the rubber itself. If you notice any of these signs it’s best to replace your wipers immediately at any auto shop.
One of the many ways you can interact with other drivers and with pedestrians is via your car’s horn. This is why you will need to make sure that this feature is working properly on your vehicle. Without it, you won’t be able to make your presence known on the road and it will be harder to communicate with other drivers. This is why you should have it tested every six months to see if it is working properly.
Another crucial safety feature that you need to make sure is working at all times is your vehicle’s brakes. These are the primary means of stopping your vehicle and without them, accidents can occur. This is why you should at least have them inspected every six months to ensure that they are working properly and to check if there is any unusual wear and tear. If there is any usual damage found it is highly recommended that you bring your vehicle to a service center to have it fixed immediately.
An often neglected safety feature is your vehicle’s spare tire. This is good to have in the event that one of your tires blows out and it cannot be repaired. That said make sure to check on it regularly to see if the tire has any cracks and will need to be replaced or if it is low on air and needs a quick refill. The last thing you want is to be stranded with a spare tire that doesn’t have enough air.
As the exhaust system of your vehicle is located under it, it becomes susceptible to dirt, dusty, and rust. As your exhaust system has parts in it that help make your vehicle environmentally friendly and quiet on the road it is best to have it checked at least twice a year to make sure everything is working properly. If there is rust or loose parts that are found, make sure to replace them or have them retightened to make sure everything is in proper working order.
Shock absorbers are one of the key components of your suspension system that helps give your vehicle a comfortable ride. When they begin to fail you will experience a much harsher and bumpier ride. With that said, it is important to have these components checked on at least twice a year to see if they are in need of replacement. Check to see if your shock absorbers are still in good working order by pushing down on your vehicle to see how many times it bounces. If your car bounces more than twice then it’s a sign that your shocks need to be replaced. You can also do a visual inspection by looking out for any oil seepage on or around the shocks themselves. If there are any leaks we recommend that you replace the part immediately.