Car Care Tips

Keep your car safe and dependable

Our car care tips are based on month intervals and focus on what items need to be checked and when. Not only does routine auto care and preventative maintenance help keep your car safe and dependable, but it helps save money and aggravation. You will understand what items should be inspected, either by you or your mechanic, to determine if there is a maintenance need before it becomes a bigger problem.
Summer Auto Maintenance Checklist

Summer Auto Maintenance Checklist

With the summer season approaching, a thorough inspection of your vehicle will give you peace of mind and help make your road journey safer.

If you are planning a road trip this summer, it's important to remember that you shouldn't just put gas in your car and go. A pre-trip vehicle check can determine how road-ready your vehicle is so you can take steps to have any problems fixed before heading out for vacation.

Before you hit the road, the Car Care Council recommends conducting a vehicle inspection to help avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

  • Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
  • Check the brake system and make sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  • Check filters and fluids, including engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, windshield washer and power steering, brake and transmission fluids. Dirty air filters can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power.
  • Check the hoses and belts and replace if they become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Underinflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check that the gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.
Performing Regular Maintenance

Performing Regular Maintenance

Regular auto maintenance is vital to keeping your car on the road. The time and effort you put into keeping up with scheduled maintenance can save you money in the long run.

Your vehicle manufacturer came up with a maintenance schedule and service intervals that are specific to your car or truck, but check out our easy to follow regular maintenance checklists to keep up with your car’s needs.

There are procedures and checks that your car needs at varying intervals.  We’ve divided them by the calendar, offering you maintenance checklists to perform every three months, every six months, and annually.

  • Every 3 Months (Check and Inspect)

Coolant Level

Coolant Mixture

Lug Bolt Inspection

Check Oil

Fill Washer Fluid

Power Steering Fluid Check

Brake Fluid Check

Oil Change: Your oil should be changed every 5000 miles, whether it comes at 1 month or 6 months.

  • Every 6 Months (Check and Inspect)

Coolant Level

Coolant Mixture

Lug Bolt Inspection

Check Oil

Fill Washer Fluid

Tire Depth Check

Brake Inspection

Spark Plug Wire Check

Power Steering Fluid Check

Brake Fluid Check

  • Every 12 Months (Check and Inspect)

Lug Bolt Inspection

Check Oil

Fill Washer Fluid

Tire Depth Check

Brake Inspection

Spark Plug Wire Check

Power Steering Fluid Check

Brake Fluid Check

Fuel Pressure Regulator Inspection

Top 10 Car Maintenance Mistakes

Top 10 Car Maintenance Mistakes

Simple Tips To Save You Money and Add Life To Your Car

Many people haven't adjusted their thinking to keep pace with new car maintenance schedules. The preoccupied still run their daily drivers without service until the dash warning lights burn out, while over-achievers fret about running synthetic oil more than 2,500 miles without a change.

Although maintenance intervals are now more widely spaced, even the newest cars require scheduled service to live long, productive lives. Whether yours is the latest model or you paid it off years ago, the trick is giving your car the maintenance it was designed to receive.

The answer to what maintenance is required is hiding no farther away than the glove box. Every car is supplied with a maintenance schedule — in the owner's manual or in a separate maintenance log book — that details that vehicle's needs. A few minutes assimilating these requirements will help you avoid the following common car-maintenance pitfalls.

Proper Tire Inflation and Rotation

Tires leak naturally and need the occasional check. Figuratively speaking, under-inflated tires suck up gasoline. Under- or over-inflated tires wear out sooner, and deliver the same emergency maneuver handling as marshmallows. You probably aren't going to check tire pressures monthly, but how about twice a year?

You may find that the front and rear tires wear differently and should be rotated to even that wear. Your owner's manual will have a recommendation on both pressure and rotation periods.

Wiper Tales

It's much easier to avoid hitting things you can see. Simple as it is, that's the concept behind replacing your windshield wipers before they fossilize into noisy uselessness.

Fall is the ideal wiper replacement time: after the blade-baking summer and before the fall and winter nastiness. Depending on location, wiper replacement may be an annual affair in the Southwest to a biannual chore in northern climes.

Tune-Up Anachronism

There are no more "tune-ups." Valves no longer need adjusting, ignition timing is computer controlled and there are no carburetors to fiddle with. About all that's left of the old tune-up drill are the spark plugs. These are often good for 100,000 miles, so don't change parts just to change parts. Instead, save up for those big 60,000- and 120,000-mile services when the timing belt, spark plug wires and coolant are due for replacement.

Octane Overdose

"If some is good, more is better" thinking does not apply to octane. Here the rule is to supply whatever octane the engine is rated for and call it done. Higher-than-required octane does not yield more power or mileage, only oil company profits.

Some engines are rated for premium 91 octane fuel but can burn 87 octane regular, thanks to the magic of knock sensors. In that case, run regular gas if puttering around surface streets, and premium fuel if full-throttle driving is part of your daily repertoire.

Oil Change Timing

Oil changes every 3,000 miles used to be required jobs, just like cleaning the accumulated fuzz from record player needles or defrosting freezers. Today, advances in engine design and lubricants make oil changes something to be done when the schedule calls for it, not when granddad says it's time. Some cars call for 5,000-mile change intervals, some up to 15,000-mile stints. Others have a variable timer. Follow the schedule and use the oil called for by the manufacturer.

Tired Tires

Tires wear out, but they also time out. The tire industry says tires are toast after five years, but they're selling tires. It all depends on heat, sunlight and ozone conditions. There's little argument from any pundits that after seven years those black donuts are dried and better off holding down a farmer's tarp than carrying your family around. If you're not sure how old your tires are, a tire shop can read the date code stamped into the sidewall.

Dirty Air Filter

Semi-clogged air filters hurt fuel economy for the same reason you don't like to run with a potato in your mouth. The question is, when is your filter dirty? Under a Norman Rockwell schedule of small-town errand running and church duty, an air filter might not see much grit. But grimy city surface streets or just looking at a dirt road on a map are often enough to overwhelm air filters. This one is about conditions. If you go near dirt, the air filter may need changing twice as often as the schedule calls for.

Ignoring Your Brakes

Note to the Wandering Unconscious: If you notice anything different about your brakes — sound, feel or response — they are telling you to visit a mechanic. Now.

Tighten Your Gas Cap

Is the Check Engine light on? Then make sure the gas cap is on tightly before calling the dealer. No joke, this is one of the most common ways of setting off your car's diagnostic system, since a loose gas cap defeats the fuel system's venting arrangement.

The Garage Is for Parking

Let's review. Your house is your most valuable investment. Your car is likely your second most valuable investment. If you're paying all that money, then why are you storing empty cardboard boxes, broken skateboards and plastic holiday wreaths in the garage? Pitch that junk and get the car in the garage!