Car Maintenance Checklist for the Inexpert

10 Routine Maintenance Items


If you’re car savvy, you likely spend time inspecting your car every now and then, looking for erosion, rust, moisture and other elements that might affect your car performance. You hear every tick and are totally in tune with how well your car is performing. But what if you’re not an expert, an inexpert even? How many among us drive a car without any knowledge of what really goes on under the hood?

Mechanically inclined or not, we all know that regular car maintenance is a great preventative of future auto repairs. If you’re not up to learning a few tricks and going the do-it-yourself (DIY) route, you need to find a trusted auto shop who will perform the regular maintenance for you.

Maintenance Checklist

There’s an important difference between maintenance and repair of a vehicle. Maintenance is the  investment you make in extending your car’s life, in keeping it healthy. Without regular maintenance, your car may end up costing you a bundle in repair. Car repair implies a problem that needs to be fixed, which of course you want to avoid.

We have prepared a checklist of the most common maintenance items that your mechanic looks at during a routine maintenance check. The more familiar you become with this list, the more likely you will understand your mechanic’s lingo. But first, let’s quickly look at your own maintenance checklist.

Your maintenance checklist

Don’t be afraid! This checklist is short and fairly easy to follow even for those of us who have neither interest in nor know-how of cars. Nonetheless, it is critical to making sure your car runs safely and smoothly.

1) Check your owner’s manual.
2) Pay attention to the warning light indicators.

1. Check your owner’s manual

Your owner’s manual is your go-to resource for anything related to your car. It helps answer many common questions and provides you with a list of what to have inspected and how often, depending on the make and model of your car. Maintenance timelines are often measured by mileage rather than time. Crack open your owner’s manual and follow the guidelines closely.

You will learn about

– maintenance schedules
– maintenance service scope
– tune-up procedures
– and more …

The intent is to be aware and to have some knowledge on the maintenance checks your car undergoes each time so that you are prepared when you schedule your car’s routine maintenance with your trusted mechanic.

2. Pay attention to the warning light indicators

With relatively newer models, light indicators and messages flashing on your dashboard keep you well informed of the maintenance schedule and any signs of trouble with car fluids, electronic controls, tire pressure, and other possible malfunctions. Refer to your owner’s manual to decipher the meaning of a trouble code and get answers to questions like “why is my tire pressure light on”. Your mechanic could of course also help answer these questions. Some diagnostic trouble codes require diagnosis with a professional scan tool. Pay attention to the signs!

Your mechanic’s maintenance checklist

Mechanics are typically familiar with the owner’s manual that is particular to your car’s make and model. Some may extend their service checks further than what the manual may identify as routine maintenance. Have a conversation with your mechanic to understand what each maintenance service entails. The top 10 maintenance checks include the following:

1)  Engine cleaning to keep moisture and dust away
2)  Fluids to help reduce friction and improve performance
3)  Air filters to help keep your engine safe
4)  Battery to measure remaining life and detect corrosion caused by moisture and rust; get tips on how to extend your battery life.
5)  Tire pressure and treads to ensure optimum traction
6)  Drive belt to ensure it does not deteriorate too early from water, dirt and excessive heat and oil leaks
7)  Tire rotation, balancing and alignment for road safety and fuel economy
8)  Spark plugs to continue powering up your car and keep it running; learn more about what signs indicate it’s time to change your spark plugs.
9)  Brake pads to ensure the break system is functional
10) Windshield wipers to ensure visibility during wet weather conditions.

If you have any concerns about your car, make sure to bring them up at the time of your scheduled maintenance. You may also want to have your mechanic check the lights and throw in a good car wash. Car detailing is another maintenance item that you should consider to protect your car paint coating over time.  Read more for details on the importance of each of the service items listed above.

How to select a mechanic

If you have purchased a brand new car, the obvious choice may be to go to your dealership for regular maintenance and make sure that the dealership continues to honour your factory warranty. According to the Consumer Reports, that is a myth. Your warranty will remain valid

as long as the maintenance items specified in the vehicle owner’s manual are performed on schedule

regardless of who or where you get the work done. Consumer Reports also advises that you hold on to your maintenance service invoices in case your dealership challenges the validity of your warranty.

At the end of the day, it is your legal right to select your own shop for maintenance and repair, whether you’re looking to preserve your factory warranty or are dealing with an insurance claim for repairs. Any reputable repair shop would be able to perform most of the maintenance services listed above. To gain trust, you need to try. Look for reviews or recommendations from someone you know and find a balance between reputation and convenience. Don’t skip a scheduled maintenance and don’t ignore the signs!

At Global Auto Sales, we are proud of the maintenance and repair services that we provide and if you’re looking for a new service shop, we would love for you to come in and give us a try.

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