We’re living in the age of technology. And yet, when it comes to cars, we seem to be afraid of it. Very few drivers are confident enough to practise a few simple car maintenance steps from time to time. Even fewer have the courage to take a closer look what’s underneath their bonnet.
The fact that many vehicles increasingly feel like computers on wheels isn’t helping.
“Our research shows that, in recent years, motorists have become less confident about maintaining their cars as the amount of sophisticated computer technology has increased,” says David White, customer services director at Kwik Fit.
Our fear of technology is understandable. But it’s costing us.
Consumer Reports estimates that regular maintenance can make cars last for 200,000 miles or roughly 15 years. This could save you up to ₤20,000 in repairs.
We can’t promise you’ll actually save that much by following this smart car maintenance checklist. But we can all but guarantee it will make your car last a lot longer.
One warning seems in place, however:
Be sure not to over maintain
It can come as a surprise, but there’s definitely too much of a good thing when it comes to car maintenance Generally speaking, your owner’s manual will give you an exact checklist of which repairs are truly required. If your mechanic advises steps that exceed this, make sure you understand, why.
Remember that many formerly routine maintenance procedures are no longer required. A lube job, for example, doesn’t even make sense anymore, because most of the parts in questions are now firmly sealed. And you will only need to replace the oil every 7,000-10,000 miles, since today’s synthetic oils are extremely long-lasting.
And there’s no such thing as a tune-up anymore. Thanks to innovative IT solutions, spark plurks can last an eternity. So don’t let your garage convince you to replace them after a mere 30,000 miles ‘just because’.
Keeping things clean
Every car maintenance checklist should start with one simple task: keeping the inside and outside of your car clean.
Obviously, a tidy passenger compartment looks a lot nicer. But it’s also a highly effective first step towards a longer lasting vehicle.
First off, by washing your car, you are protecting the paint from premature wear and tear. The paint is like your car’s skin, so by keeping it clean and fresh, you are also protecting it against rust. It furthermore keeps colors sparkling, which can be helpful when re-selling it.
Keeping things clean in the passenger compartment also prevents holes from forming too soon. You can even wash your engine to make it run cooler.
Most importantly, however, regular cleaning will make you realise potential problems. By taking countermeasures early on, you can take care of things before they get out of hand.
Get on the maintenance schedule
It has become a modern fad to consult google for everything. Unfortunately, many of these ‘solutions’ end up making things worse. Especially with a complex machine like a car, you should leave the really fundamental tasks to a professional.
This is why many experts highly recommend to follow your car’s maintenance schedule down to the dots. Build quality has significantly improved, so you won’t need to pay your mechanic a visit very often. As we’ve mentioned, even oil can last up to 10,000 miles these days.
If you’ve fallen behind, you can still get back on track again pretty easily. Simply have your car examined by a mechanic. They will have an exhaustive maintenance checklist and use it to make sure your car’s in top condition. Once you have all of the current flaws ironed out, you can start following the routine schedule.
Our Car Maintenance Checklist
After this brief introduction, it’s now time for the good stuff: our top recommendations to keep your car at its best. Please note that this list is neither complete nor does it offer a guarantee it will run up to 200,000 miles.
All we know is these steps can contribute to your car’s health and safety and are a great precaution against much bigger and more expensive repairs later on.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 0: Get the right car
All cars these days are pretty reliable. But some are more reliable than others. Before you start thinking about maintenance and forking out cash, make reliability and easy maintenance your top buying priority.
As a feature article on the topic proves, American marques, and Crysler in particular, are very expensive to maintain. They also frequently end up in the lower regions of reliablity ratings.
In our Manchester showroom, we always have a wide range of models to choose from. Get in touch now to find out how we can help you find the one that’s right for you.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 1: Liquid Levels
It takes three to tango here: Inspecting liquid levels should include brake fluids, water engine coolant and oil levels. You can do this as a sort of routine procedure every time you fill up the tank. It’s easy, doesn’t cost the world and can keep your car running better:
Coolant prevents the engine from overheating. Proper oil levels protect the integrity of your car parts. And without break fluids, you would soon hit a wall – literally, that is.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 2: Tyre pressure, tread & rotations
Tyres are your car’s feet. And considering how much walking they do, it is remarkable how little attention we pay them. Checking and maintaining your tyres should, in fact, be a top priority. And it’s hardly rocket science.
Start with checking your tyre pressure at the petrol station. Correct pressure insures the vehicle is driving smoothly. It can also save you money by keeping fuel consumption down.
While you’re at it, take a look at the tyre tread, too. Uneven wear of the tread can result in imbalances which, in turn, can cause damage to the other tyres.
To improve tyre alignment, your maintenance checklist should include tyre rotations. This means switching tyres by switching wheels from the front to the back and vice versa from time to time.
The benefit: Your wheels will wear out more evenly.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 3: Changing Filters
Replacing filters is important. But it is not a big thing. In fact, it is a very simple measure that you can easily perform yourself. As gocompare puts it:
“You pay a mechanic to do it every single year yet it is a relatively easy job – would you pay someone to fill up your car for you? No. […] End this madness.”
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 4: Brakes & Timing Belt
Brakes are among the most unpopular car parts: They’re obviously vitally important, but they’re also expensive to replace and hard to service yourself. By keeping tyre pressure right, however, you have already taken the first step.
By keeping break fluid levels correct, you can now insure proper functioning of the brakes. And by using a brake meter, you can already verify brakes in between inspections.
Even more useful steps are included in an excellent article on Smart Motorist.
The timing belt is similar to the brakes in that it is not something we often think about. It, too, is costly to service or repair. It pays off to invest some time into it – if only by adhering to your car manual’s recommendations about replacing it.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 5: Driving the right way
You can keep up your car’s maintenance schedule and follow all of the points of our checklist. But if you’re straining your car excessively with the wrong driving style, you’re bound to run into trouble anyway.
“The more aggressive you are on the pedals the higher your fuel and repair bills are likely to be,” according to RAC patrol of the year Chris Burgess, “Learning to drive more smoothly is kinder to your car – and the environment – accelerating and decelerating in a controlled manner and anticipating the road ahead will save you pounds on your fuel bill.”
Gentle, yet Firm
Although driving smoothly and cautiously most of the time is ideal, giving your engine the occasional boost is important, too. By reving the motor up, you can remove carbon buildups and keep all passages clean. Obviously, only do this “when the oil is warm and you’re on a quiet road.”
Reader’s Digest also recommends:
“Do not race your car’s engine during start-up. This is a quick way to add years of wear to your engine, especially if it’s cold outside. Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive. The most wear to the engine and drive train occurs in the first 10 to 20 minutes of operation.”
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 6: Parking the Right Way
We’ve emphasised the importance of well maintained paint for your car before. Here are a few more steps you can take to improve its durability:
- Park your car in the garage. This protects it not just against weather influences, but also from acidic bird droppings or destructive plant sap drippings.
- Use a car cover: If you don’t own a garage or if you need it more urgently for band practise or to build an IT empire, at least use a car cover for protection.
- If none of these options sound alluring to you, park your car in the shade. Especially in the Summer, the sun’s heat can seriously damage the integrity of the paint. Parking in a shady spot also makes subsequent driving a lot more pleasant.
Car Maintenance Checklist Step 7: Become more knowledgable
You don’t need to become an expert in everything. As mentioned before, there are experts to take care of the most important steps of your car maintenance checklist. But it does help immensely to know a few basics.
Familiarise yourself with the warning signs of your dashboard, for example. Ideally, you should know what they mean. At the very least, you should be able to know where to find their meaning in the user’s manual. Don’t let a warning light go unnoticed just because you’re too insecure to investigate.
Knowing what different car exhaust smoke colours mean can come in handy, too.
Reader’s Digest also advises to keep a pen and a note pad at hand and to keep track of your gas mileage. This makes sense: If you notice your car becoming less efficient, this could be an indication of troubles ahead.
Most importantly, don’t overthink things.
The Reader’s Digest article includes a maintenance checklist with a whopping 74 points. Many of them may be useful. But even if you were physically able to, do you really want to keep all of them in mind all of the time?
Instead, focus on the essentials. Your car is like a complex computer and will take care of many issues itself anyway. That, for sure, is one of the decided benefits of living in the age of technology.