Basic Car Maintenance Tips & Services Checklist
As drivers, we know it’s important to maintain our vehicles. But between work, the kids and the dozens of other things we’d rather be doing, basic car maintenance can often fall to the wayside. But did you know that taking care of your vehicle not only helps it perform better; it also could mean money in the bank for you?
From better fuel efficiency to retaining your car’s value, these simple car maintenance tips will have you seeing green in no time:
1) Don’t skip scheduled service. Check your owner’s guide and find out when your scheduled car maintenance services are. Usually maintenance involves checking or replacing parts like spark plugs, wires and timing belts. Down the line, other major parts may need replacing in order to keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely. While it may cost a little more, scheduling service through your dealer not only guarantees genuine parts and expertise; it also keeps your service history in line and up to date, which will attract more buyers and higher prices when it comes to selling your car.
2) Replace the air filter. Think of it as your car’s lungs. By replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles with carbureted engines, you can improve your car's fuel economy and acceleration by a few percent under normal replacement conditions, according to FuelEconomy.gov, the official U.S. government source for fuel economy information. Additionally, replacing clogged air filters on newer cars can help improve acceleration time.
3) Get an oil change. This is one of the simplest car maintenance services you can do to keep your vehicle in good running condition. Not maintaining it could void your warranty (check your Owner’s Manual to find out when you’re due for service) and even cause an engine failure, which can cost thousands. Keeping your cooling system in working order is also important. So this is also a good time to have a system flush. Getting the pump, hoses, fluids and belts checked is also part of proper cooling-system maintenance.
4) Check your tire pressure. Invest a few bucks in a tire gauge and check your tire pressure regularly (including the often-overlooked spare!). This helps to improve fuel efficiency, cut down on tire wear and tear and lets you know if your vehicle is correctly aligned.
5) Wash it. Washing not only keeps your vehicle looking good; it's also a good way to maintain that new-car finish. Allowing a layer of dead bugs, bird droppings, dirt and chemicals to accumulate on your vehicle can strip away wax and eventually paint. If you decide to wash your car yourself, don’t use household cleaning agents like hand soap, dishwashing detergent or glass cleaner, which can also strip off the protective wax. Use a product designed specifically for cars.
Trying to remember which scheduled maintenance is approaching and when it needs to be done can be a daunting task. If you own a Toyota, consider registering for a Toyota Owners account. We'll help you keep track of your service records, schedule service for Genuine Toyota Parts and Toyota expertise, save preferred dealers, send service reminders and more.