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Auto Maintenance

Keeping up with your auto maintenance will save you money and time. Car maintenance should be viewed as an investment because proper care can extend the life of your automobile and can keep down repair costs. Each season has its own set of hazards. The following is a list of checks to perform monthly, seasonally, and annually to help ensure smooth roads ahead.

Monthly Checks

  • Check battery cables, clamps, and terminals.
  • Check the following levels; and add the recommended fluids as necessary:
    • Oil;
    • Engine coolant;
    • Brake fluid;
    • Power steering fluid;
    • Clutch reservoir; and
    • Windshield washer fluid reservoir.
  • Check belts for tension, cracks or wear.
  • Check hoses for leaks, cracks or wear.
  • Inspect the engine and under the car for any leaks.
  • Check the pressure on all tires, including the spare.
  • Inspect the tread depth. The tread should be at least as deep as the head of a penny (at least 2/32″ remaining tread).
  • Inspect tires for uneven wear or any object that could cause a puncture.

Seasonal Checklists

Summer Checks

  • Check that the air conditioning is in good working condition and that the refrigerants are fully charged.
  • Check the coolant levels of the antifreeze. Make sure the hoses are in good condition, not soft or brittle.
  • Test the battery load for weakness by using a voltage regulator. Ensure the battery is at proper operating levels and that battery terminals are clean and in good condition and cables are secure.
  • Inspect brake pads for wear and that brake fluid is at the proper level.
  • Ensure exhaust system is free from leaks or holes.
  • Check all headlights, taillights and brake lights. Make sure they are all in good working order.
  • Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for recommendations about how often the oil should be changed. Typically, it should be changed every 3,000 miles. Also, make sure that you are using the correct weight of oil for the season.

Winter Checks

  • Flush and refill the radiator according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
    • A quality repair shop has a tool that can check your car’s antifreeze protection.
    • This service should include replacing the pressure cap and adding antifreeze if necessary.
  • Replace dry and cracked wiper blades and top off the wiper fluid.
    • Do not use water.
    • Check wiper blades before the first storm of the season by turning them on and making sure they evenly wipe the windshield.
  • Have your battery tested, especially if it’s near the end of its warranty.
    • Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, cracks, and dirt.
  • Have brakes checked by a licensed adjuster.
  • Test lights to make sure they work, especially brake lights and turn signals. Properly functioning lights are crucial for driving in winter fog.
  • Check the heater and defroster. You may want to have a professional inspect the entire heating system, as well as belts and hoses.
  • Inspect the belts and hoses for cracks, soft spots, or bulges.
    • If you find a problem, have the hose or belt replaced.
  • Have your car checked by a qualified technician if the check engine light is on.
  • Try to keep your tank at least half full, particularly when driving at night, in bad weather, or long distances.
  • If you carry a cell phone for emergencies, make sure its battery is fully charged.

Annual Checks

  • ‰Inspect brake linings, and replace them if necessary.
  • Replace all air filters. ‰
  • Replace all fuel filters. ‰
  • Flush radiator and heater core. ‰
  • Replace antifreeze.
  • ‰Have front-end alignment checked and corrected if needed. ‰
  • Replace windshield wiper blades. ‰
  • Clean crankcase breather cap. ‰
  • Tighten bolts on engine manifolds. ‰
  • Have automatic transmission bands adjusted if possible. ‰
  • Adjust valve clearance, if required on your car. ‰
  • Check to see if it is time for a major tune up, including the following: ‰
    • Replacement of the plugs, filters, and points. ‰
    • Adjustments to the carburetor, ignition system, and pollution-control equipment.


© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.