By Madeline Klein on August 7, 2018.
If you’re anything like the rest of us, car maintenance can be a constant struggle. With oil changes every few months (depending on how often and how far you drive), checking your fluids, and those bigger inspections when you’ve hit so many miles, it seems like some cars always need something. Plus, who can really understand what all the dashboard symbols of your car mean anyway?
All the upkeep can be a lot to deal with, but we’re here to help. We went over some summer maintenance tips before, but have now put together a checklist of some car maintenance items you should regularly keep an eye on for a healthy car year-round.
(P.S: If you're more of a visual person, you can check out our car maintenance infographic here!)
1. Check your car fluids
Checking your fluids is a relatively simple task that is so important for a healthy vehicle. Some of the most important fluids to regularly check are:
Oil: All cars differ a bit on how often they need their oil changed but for most it is around every 5,000 miles. Check out your car manual and see what is suggested for your make and model. Healthy oil will be a honey-brown color, while oil needing to be changed will be a black-ish color.
Windshield wiper fluid: How often you check your wiper fluid depends how often you use it. In the winter you may use it more often during snow or ice, so you’ll want to check it every few weeks or so. If you are using it less in the summer, you should be able to get away with checking it every month and a half or so.
Coolant: Coolant, commonly known as anti-freeze, is another fluid that varies on of how often you should check it. Many agree that checking it every 50,000 miles is a safe bet. At that mileage, your coolant should be flushed and replenished. This liquid is especially important because it keeps your car cool and ensures it doesn’t overheat. You may need to check this more often if you live in warmer states.
2. Change your windshield wipers
Windshield wipers are a small piece of your car that is easy to overlook. However, it is suggested that you change your wipers as soon as your windshield starts getting streaks when the wipers are used. A new set of wipers are usually needed once a year.
Visibility is so vital when driving, so you don’t want anything hindering your view. Replacing wipers regularly will help keep the view clear. It will also help cut down on that annoying squeaking noise old wipers tend to make.
3. Rotate, balance, and align your car tires
Each car varies on how often they need tires rotated, balanced, and aligned. Be sure to check your manual, but a rule of thumb is to rotate and balance them every other oil change. This helps your tires wear out at a more even rate and will hopefully give them a longer lifespan. Tires are expensive to replace, so anything to make them last a little longer is useful! You can check your tire alignment a little less frequently, typically once a year, or if you notice your car veering when you’re driving.
4. Cabin air filter
This is a super easy maintenance task that can have a significant impact on the comfort of your car. It can be beneficial if you or a family member have dust allergies, asthma, or any other kind of breathing difficulty.
The cabin air filter should be changed every 12 months, or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. An easy way to tell if the filter needs to be replaced is if your car starts smelling musty or dirty. A fresh air filter will keep your car smelling nice and clean.
5. Exterior lights
A maintenance need that can get overlooked is checking your exterior lights. This includes your headlights, brake lights, etc. Because you never notice your own lights from inside your car, they are important to check every 3-7,000 miles. Regularly checking your lights will make sure you can always see well, and other cars can see you too.
Many of these things can be done from the comfort of your driveway if you have the knowledge and time. Whether you do it yourself or take it in, be sure to always keep car maintenance top of mind so your ride is always running smoothly and safely all year round.