Do regular checks once a week.
Most car owners have given up their weekly car routines. It used to be back in the day that dad would get up early Saturday morning and do some basic preventative maintenance to the car. Check the engine oil, grease the bearings and u-joints. Most of those things that would be done have been have been done away with by using things like sealed bearings, but it is still valuable for everyone to develop their own Saturday routine. The tips we’ve provided so far are a good suggestion to get started.
When you get up Saturday morning give yourself about 10 minutes for some very basic maintenance of your vehicle. The first thing you can do is just walk around the vehicle and look at it. Check the tires and make sure they are not low or damaged in any way. This is super important because they are what keeps you on the road. It doesn’t have to be anything major like jacking up the car but at least walk around and take a look.
Next is before starting your vehicle pop the hood and check the oil. Again, this is simple enough anyone can do it. Find the hood release inside the driver compartment and pop it open. Open the hood and locate the engine oil dipstick. There may be two dipsticks under your hood. One is for engine oil and the other for transmission fluid. It is usually pretty clear because they are labeled. Just pull the dipstick out and with a paper towel wipe the bottom end completely clean. RE-insert the dipstick for about a count of 5 seconds seated all the way down in to the dipstick tube. Remove the dipstick and check where the oil line is.
If the engine oil is low, you can either put some oil in yourself or visit one of the many local mechanics or even parts stores to do it for you. You can pull up to most parts stores and if you are not able to or do not wish to put oil in your engine you can ask the clerk behind the counter to help you. But it is as simple as opening a bottle and dumping the contents into the engine. Again, in a clearly marked place. Now that you’ve checked your engine oil and replaced the dip stick it is OK to start the engine.
With the engine running turn on all your lights. Headlights, High beams, Flashers and any fog or other lights on your vehicle. With all of these on take another walk around your vehicle and visually inspect the lights and make sure they are all working properly. It is also good to pay attention to what your vehicle sounds like when running properly. Take note of the exact sounds it makes because as time goes by you will hear new sounds that usually mean something needs maintenance. A squeak here or clicking there and you can catch things early.
Next, turn on all the stuff on your car and make sure it works. Things like your windshield wipers and wiper fluid. At the very least put water in your windshield wiper fluid reservoir so that you can clean your windshield. Make sure the blades make a clean stroke across the windshield. If you are in a state where there are large swings in the weather throughout the year make sure you have the right blades in. There are some that are designed for winter and some for summer.
And speaking of winter and summer. Again, if you are in an area with a widely varying climate you should be putting snow tires on in the winter and changing them in the warmer months. The tread pattern on a winter tire is very different than a summer tread. It needs to grip on ice and slippery conditions where a summer tire is made to be quite and ride nice. So, if you are up north where it gets cold make sure to have the right tires on your vehicle.
Finally, if you are up for the task, washing and cleaning your car will insure it is kept in top shape. This not only makes driving safer in that if you did get into an accident you wouldn’t have flying objects in the drivers compartment with you but it keeps the value of your vehicle if it is properly maintained and cleaned. Protecting your investment in your vehicle so when it is time to get a new one your old one has as much value as it can to put towards your new purchase.
These are just a few suggestions. You should develop your own check list and do it regularly.