5 Preventative Maintenance Tasks to Start the New Year off Right
The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your routine and make sure you’re taking care of your car. From checking engine fluids to rotating tires and replacing air filters, a number of tasks can be checked off your list to keep your vehicle running well all year.
The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
When it comes to car maintenance, preventative measures are always better than reactive ones. You don’t want to wait until you’re stalled on a snowy side street to think about the last time you had your oil changed or engine inspected. By being proactive about regular car maintenance, you can avoid problems and save time, headaches and money down the road.
Some tangible benefits of preventative car maintenance include:
- Better gas mileage. According to Modern Tire Dealer, preventative maintenance improves gas mileage by an average of 4%, which equals about $120 per year in savings.
- Increased safety. When your car is running at peak performance, it’s safer to drive and ride. Tires in good condition are less likely to skid on slippery streets, and an engine that’s been maintained is less likely to stall out on a busy street. Not only are you keeping yourself and your passengers safe, but you’re also looking out for all the other souls on the road.
- Extended vehicle lifespan. When you regularly maintain your vehicle, you can extend its lifespan. That means you don’t have to replace it as often, saving a good chunk of change in the long run.
- Improved performance. Regular maintenance keeps your car running at its best. You get the best driving experience possible and may even avoid things like flat tires and breakdowns.
- Better sustainability. Properly maintained vehicles produce fewer emissions than those with dirty oil or neglected engines. This is good for the planet and the air quality in your immediate vicinity.
When to Schedule Preventative Maintenance
Check your owner’s manual for specifics on when to schedule certain maintenance tasks, but there are a few general guidelines to help you fill out your maintenance calendar.
Scheduled factory maintenance is recommended every 30,000 miles. You may hear it referred to as the 30/60/90 rule. When you bring your car in for scheduled factory maintenance, your technician will do a detailed diagnostic inspection to catch any signs of trouble or parts that may be wearing out. Catching issues at this stage (rather than when parts break) saves you time and money.
You can also use a calendar for tracking your car’s regular maintenance schedule. We’ve laid out this 2023 checklist to ensure your car stays in peak performance condition all year long.
Your Car Maintenance Checklist: 2023
Every 3 to 6 months
Frequent maintenance checks keep your car in good health throughout the year. And when you bring your car to a qualified tech every few months, they’ll usually be able to catch small problems before they become big ones.
- Change the oil and oil filter. As oil ages, it becomes thick and full of debris. Dirty oil can lead to all kinds of trouble with your engine, up to and including engine failure. Change out oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or as often as your owner’s manual suggests.
- Rotate tires. Tire rotation helps your tires wear evenly and reduces the risk of blowouts. Ask for this service along with your oil change (usually, it’s free).
- Wax. Regular wash and wax jobs can prevent the rubber seals on your car’s doors and windows from cracking in extreme weather. Wax also protects your car’s paint job, keeping it looking pristine.
- Test your car’s battery. Batteries that run in cold climates (like Cleveland’s) can experience a reduced lifespan. Have your battery regularly tested to avoid waking up to a dead car on a chilly morning.
Every 6 to 12 Months
Bring your car in for a full once-over every six months to one year (or as recommended in your manual). Your mechanic will perform a diagnostic inspection to ensure your car is running at peak performance and safety. Your tech will look at:
- Shocks and struts. If your car is bouncing or shaking, these are the likely culprits. They should be replaced every 50,000 miles or as soon as you start to experience a diminished driving experience due to a bumpy ride.
- Fluids. Just like your car’s oil, transmission fluid and coolant should be regularly inspected, topped off and flushed. Your car’s manual is the best guide for determining how often you should flush these vital fluids.
- Belts and hoses. The timing belt, serpentine belt and radiator hose are usually replaced only once in a car’s lifetime, but regular inspections can catch cracks or weakness early and prevent more expensive repairs that could result from breaks.
- Brakes. The brakes are your first line of defense against car accidents, spin-outs and other dangerous driving situations. If you notice any changes in how your car is slowing down or stopping or hear grinding or squeaking when you press the brake pedal, take your car in immediately. An annual brake inspection will catch things like worn pads that need replacing before they become obvious — or dangerous.
Once or Twice Per Year
When the weather turns from fall to winter or spring to summer, it’s nature’s way of telling you to get your car ready for the season ahead. Make an appointment to:
- Replace your windshield wipers.
Don’t risk visibility with streaky windshield wipers. The blades should be replaced once per year or as needed.
- Swap out your tires.
Winter tires are designed to remain flexible in icy, snowy conditions (like Cleveland). Winter tires keep you safer and save you money by keeping your engine from working too hard. On the flip side, winter tires wear faster in warm weather than all-season tires and aren’t made to handle hot streets.
Plotting out your car care schedule now means a full year of preventative maintenance that can save headaches (and money) down the road. Follow this checklist to ensure your car is ready to take on whatever 2023 throws its way!
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