Factory-recommended maintenance is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to maintain your vehicle. Routine maintenance checks not only enable your mechanic to find small problems and repair them before they become major problems, they also provide a baseline so you’ll know what to look for to prevent future issues.
Most auto repair shops will provide you with a list of factory-recommended services that are specific to your vehicle’s make, model and year. These preventative maintenance services usually include oil changes; engine, transmission, brake and steering checks; and heating, cooling and starting system tests. In between factory maintenance checks provided by your auto repair shop, you can perform routine checks of your own to ensure your car is running to its full potential:
Engine oil. Use the dipstick to check your car’s oil every week or whenever you stop for gas. Visit your mechanic right away if the oil seems to be burning off between checks or if your vehicle seems to be rapidly losing oil.
Engine coolant. Check the coolant every week or whenever you stop for gas. Be sure to monitor the level from the reserve tank and not from the radiator cap, as hot oil may spill from the radiator if the car has been running.
Brake fluid. Check monthly. Low brake fluid poses a danger to your car and can be indicative of an underlying problem. Immediately take your vehicle to a service center if you notice low brake fluid.
Tires. Test your tire pressure every month and refill to the recommended pressure whenever it’s low. While testing, look for uneven or excessive wear and foreign objects. Take your car to an auto repair shop if you notice uneven wear or if tire pressure is consistently low.
Battery. Check your battery every month (more often in harsh weather or driving conditions). Look for corrosion and test the level of fluid or color indicator.
Lights. Test all the lights on your car once a month (you may need a friend to help you). These include headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights, back-up lights, turn signals and the license plate light.
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