DIY Car Care Checklist
It’s so easy to get busy with work and family obligations that it’s easy to forget about car maintenance. That’s why it’s important to have a DIY car care checklist to keep your car running in optimal condition. Regularly checking throughout the year can save you money on costly repairs.
Oil Check: Begin by checking your engine oil with the engine off. Locate the dipstick, pull it out and wipe it clean with a paper towel or a cloth. After cleaning, slide the dipstick all the way back into the tube then pull it out again. There are markings on the dipstick (Full and Add Oil). Read the oil level on the dipstick and only add oil if the oil is below the “Add Oil” mark and never fill above the “Full” line. Don’t worry if the oil on the dipstick looks dark, as long as you have changed your car’s oil at the recommended intervals. If the oil is foamy or smells of gas, you should get your car checked by a professional. You can also check your transmission fluid, radiator fluid, and brake fluid in the same way.
Battery: Most batteries today are “maintenance-free,” meaning you can’t check the water level in the cells. However, you can check that the battery connections are clean and tight and there is no corrosion on them. If there is corrosion, clean it off with a mixture of baking soda and water. (Be careful not to touch both battery terminals at the same time). If the corrosion keeps coming back, have the battery and charging system checked by a professional.
Tires: You’ll want to check your tire pressure regularly. Buy yourself a tire gauge and leave it in the car. Always check your tire pressure when the tires are cold and adjust them to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. The recommended tire pressures are usually marked on a sticker in the glove box, on the driver’s side door jamb, or on the side of the tire. Proper tire pressure is important for tire life and fuel economy. You can also check the tires for tread wear. If the tread wears down more on one side than the other, your car may need an alignment. Additionally, you may want to rotate your tires following what the manufacturer specifies for your vehicle.
Windshield Wipers: Since wiper blades are made from rubber, over time they dry out and lose their flexibility. Once that happens, the wipers leave streaks on your windshield rather than clearing it. The best way to ensure a clean windshield is to change your wiper blades every 6,000 to 10,000 miles, or every year. Even new wiper blades will streak if they’re dirty. Keep your wiper blades clean by rubbing the blade with a paper towel and some windshield wiper fluid whenever you clean your windshield.
Windshield Washer Fluid: It’s essential for safe driving that you have a clear, streak-free windshield so make sure you keep a full tank of windshield wiper fluid. Check the level in the translucent tank usually located on a side wall in your engine compartment. The fluid will clean better if you don’t dilute it with water.
By incorporating these items into a DIY car care checklist, you’ll be able to diagnose any potential issues with your car and keep it properly maintained. Doing this on a regular basis can prevent small problems from becoming big ones that end up costing you time and money. While it’s important to have your vehicle serviced by a professional on a regular basis, being proactive and checking these components on your own can be beneficial to your budget and increase the likelihood of a smooth ride.