10 Monthly DIY Vehicle Maintenance Checks Everyone Should Do [checklist]
Auto repairs can be so expensive, and the worst part is that extensive repairs always come at the worst time. Whether you’re in between your paycheck or some other unexpected bill, if you’re short on cash, you can almost count on something going wrong with your car.
No one wants to get stuck with expensive car repairs, and it’s even more stressful when you least expect it. But your transmission doesn’t always show signs of wear and tear, and your brakes can go from pretty to bad in no time.
That’s why it’s essential to keep up with the routine maintenance of your car. You can help avoid some of those major repairs by taking the time to inspect your vehicle once a month. Below are 10 monthly DIY vehicle maintenance checks that you should perform to get you started. You can also help protect your investment with our sponsor, CarShield. Call 800-CAR-6000 and quote the promo code “KIM” or visit AutoShield.com and use the code “KIM” to save 10%.
1. Check brake fluid
One of the most critical maintenance checks is looking at your brake fluid. A sudden drop in brake fluid can mean that the brake pads are so worn that they need service. And if there is not enough brake fluid, air will enter the brake lines and your vehicle will not stop properly.
One of the ways you know you have enough in the reservoir is by checking the levels. You can find your brake fluid reservoir on your vehicle’s master cylinder (check your owner’s manual if you don’t know where that is).
Brake fluid levels are indicated by the “maximum” and “minimum” lines on the outside of the reservoir. If you see the brake fluid near the “minimum” line, it’s time to have your brakes looked at.
2. Check coolant
If you’ve ever had a car engine overheating, you know the importance of coolant. The radiator cools your engine and needs water and coolant to function. You should check the coolant level every month to make sure your radiator has enough to work with. Running low puts your engine at risk of overheating, which can mean major problems on the road and expensive repairs at the shop.
Not sure how to check those levels? The video below will help you on your way.
3. Check the oil level
How often do you check your oil? It would be best if you did it monthly. Oil helps keep your car running by lubricating the engine and fighting friction and heat that can destroy your car. Without oil, your car is toast. Even a low oil level can ruin your engine over time.
Fortunately, checking your oil is easy. Turn off your car, open the hood and locate the oil dipstick. Pull it out, wipe off any oil and reinsert the dipstick all the way into the tube. Pull it back out and look on both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil level ends.
If the top of the oil is between the two clear marks on the dipstick, the level is acceptable. If the oil is below the bottom line, you will need to add more oil to your car.
4. Check your air filter
The air filter is vital to the overall health of your vehicle, but this part is often overlooked. Take the time to check your air filter every month. Otherwise, that dirty air filter can significantly affect your car’s performance and cost you more in repairs over time.
5. Check your lights
If you have a taillight or headlight that is off, you not only risk a ticket, but also your safety. When your car lights don’t work properly, you run the risk of not being able to see on the road when it’s dark or when the weather is bad. You also run the risk of other drivers not seeing you or your brakes, which can lead to serious accidents on the road.
You can check the headlights and taillights yourself by simply turning on your car and seeing if they work. However, you need a friend to help with brake lights and turn signals. Leave them behind and in front of the car while you test the brake lights and turn signals to see if they work.
6. Check your tires
Wear on your tires is essential to keep an eye on. Take the time each month to check your tires for uneven tread or signs of wear. You should also check the air pressure in your tires, especially when the weather and temperature fluctuate. Keeping your tires in good condition is an essential part of maintaining your vehicle and staying accident free.
7. Check the windshield washer fluid
Do you regularly check your windshield washer fluid? This fluid is essential all year round, but is critical in the winter when muddy and muddy conditions make it difficult to see. The ammonia and alcohol in that washer fluid also help prevent ice from building up on your wiper blades, so you need to keep the levels up.
You can check the windshield fluid level by opening the hood of your car and finding your windshield washer fluid reservoir. That reservoir is usually indicated by a white, slightly translucent container with a windshield or water symbol on the cap. Check the levels every month and add more if necessary. It helps keep your car in good condition all year round.
8. Check Wiper Blades
Windshield wipers are an essential part of your car, but are often overlooked during quick DIY checks. Take the time to check your wiper blades every month. If your blades are cracked or torn or show signs of severe wear, they will not completely remove snow, mud, dust, pollen or other substances that get on your windshield. This can lead to accidents on the road.
9. Clean Up Clutter
How much stuff do you have piled up in your suitcase and in your back seat now? Your car is not storage, and keeping extra things in it will eventually make your vehicle more worn out. Every time you leave your vehicle, try to get rid of the stuff you have piled up in the nooks and crannies of your car. This will help keep your car clean and reduce wear and tear that occurs over time.
10. Wash it inside and out
Washing your car isn’t just showing off that shiny paint. It’s also about keeping your car’s appearance beautiful over time. Regular cleaning is an inexpensive way to protect its value and prevent permanent damage from dirt, pollen, tree sap, insects and other contaminants that can damage your paint and finish.
The frequency is up to you, but you should grab a hose and some soap or drive through a car wash at least once a month. While you’re at it, make sure you vacuum the interior well and wipe it down as well. This will keep your car’s interior looking like new and help preserve the value of your investment.
Bonus — Invest in CarShield to keep your car’s maintenance costs low
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