Today’s vehicles tend to need less routine maintenance to keep them running well. Still, it’s important to take care of certain service tasks on a regular basis to prolong the life of your vehicle, help its resale value and avoid costly repairs and potential breakdowns.

Keep your car running with this maintenance checklist:

Monthly:

Check the engine oil and add more if the level is low.

Check the coolant level and add more if the level is low.

Check for signs of worn or frayed hoses and belts in the engine.

Check the pressure on all tires, including the spare. 

Inspect the battery terminals for corrosion and clean, if needed.

Check the windshield washer fluid levels and add more, if needed.

Ensure all headlights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning. 

Examine wiper blades for wear and tear. Replace if needed.

Clean your car inside and out. Do this as often as needed to remove dirt and road salt from the exterior and keep the upholstery clean.

Periodically (see your owner’s manual for suggested maintenance intervals):

Change the engine oil and filter.

Inspect the brakes for wear.

Examine the air filter and replace, if necessary.

Inspect the exhaust system for signs of damage, rust or loose parts.

Check shock absorbers for signs of wear or oil seepage.

Examine the constant-velocity joints on the car’s drive axle for signs of cracking or leaking. Replace, if needed.

Every two to four years:

Drain and flush the cooling system.

Replace drive belts and hoses.

Change the automatic transmission fluid.

Replace the timing belt.

Replace the battery, if needed.

When to Consider Your Next Vehicle

There are certain costly repairs that you can’t avoid regardless of how well you take care of your car. Wear-and-tear problems often start to appear around the time your car hits the 100,000-mile mark. For instance, replacing the timing belt and water pump on some models can set you back about $1,000. Although that is likely significantly less than the cost of another car, chances are good you’ll need to repair or replace other parts in the future.

A benefit of getting a new car is that you should have at least three years, if not longer, before you have to worry about paying for any major repairs. You’ll also have the advantage of a warranty. Generally, it’s time to start looking for a new set of wheels when repair costs exceed the car’s value.  

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