The Car Maintenance Checklist Every Driver Needs
If there’s one thing we’re certain of here at Virginia Tire & Auto, it’s that regular car maintenance is the key to vehicle longevity.
We also understand that when it comes to your car, there are a lot of moving parts — literally and figuratively. Each part of your vehicle has a different maintenance schedule, and that can get confusing.
To help you understand when and where you need car maintenance, we’ve compiled a car maintenance checklist.
Car Maintenance Checklist
❏ Oil Changes
Why: Oil plays a few key roles when it comes to your vehicle’s overall health. For one, it acts as a lubricant, ensuring that the various parts of your vehicle are functioning together smoothly. Secondly, it serves as a cooling agent, which prevents your engine from overheating. As time goes on and your oil is exposed to heat, moisture, and air, it becomes less effective at doing its job. Eventually, the oil will begin to oxidize and thicken, making it hard to keep dirt and debris from moving around the engine. The longer you let this go on, the more damage it does to your engine.
How often: The frequency can vary based on your vehicle type, how much you drive, your driving style, weather factors, and vehicle mileage. The experts at Virginia Tire & Auto follow each vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations.
When it comes to the “other” oils that your car needs, we ultimately follow the vehicle’s owner’s manual, but recommend the following general guidelines:
- Brake Fluid: Replace every 2 years or 24,000 miles
- Power Steering Fluid: Replace every 2 years
- Transmission Fluid: Every 30,000 to 60,000 miles
Why: Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, so they’re especially vulnerable to wear and tear. Neglecting to take care of your tires can result in significant safety concerns for you, your passengers, and fellow drivers on the road.
How often: The frequency at which you perform tire maintenance greatly depends on which service area you’re focusing.
- Tire Rotation: The tire industry recommends getting a tire rotation every 5,000 miles. Over time, your tires wear. Tire rotations equalize these natural wear patterns by swapping the position of your tires.
- Air Pressure: We recommend checking the air pressure in your tires once a month. Failing to do so can decrease your tires’ lifespan significantly. In fact, tires that are under 10psi of the manufacturer’s recommendation can decrease tire life by up to 45% and fuel economy by 3%.
- Treads: The treads on most new tires are between 10/32 of an inch and 11/32 seconds of an inch. We recommend replacing your tires when your treads reach 4/32 of an inch, and you will fail your Virginia vehicle inspection when they reach 2/32 of an inch. Try the penny test to determine the amount of wear on your treads!
Why: Brakes are one of the most essential components of your vehicle — simply put, they decrease the kinetic energy of your vehicle to help it slow down and stop. This is essential to maintaining road safety and avoiding accidents.
How often: The frequency at which you replace your brakes depends on your vehicle’s make and model and how often you drive. By most industry standards, brakes should be replaced every 20,000 – 60,000 miles. Signs that your brakes need to be replaced include: screeching or grinding noises, an increase in pressure needed to stop the vehicle, pulling of your vehicle during braking, vibration when pushing the brake pedal, and worn brake pads. We recommend replacing your brake pads when their thickness reaches 3/32 of an inch, however, you will fail your Virginia vehicle inspection when they reach 2/32 of an inch.
The experts at Virginia Tire & Auto can perform a free visual brake inspection to ensure your brakes are up to standard.
❏ Spark Plugs
Why: Spark plugs provide your vehicle with the “spark” it needs to get started, and also help it stay powered and running smoothly. Given their impact on the performance of your engine, it’s important to make sure they’re functioning properly.
How often: Most manufacturers recommend replacing your spark plugs about every 30,000 miles. The top five signs that you need replacement include: engine misfires, poor gas mileage, trouble starting your vehicle, poor acceleration, and a vibrating or noisy engine.
❏ Timing Belt
Why: Your timing belt impacts your engine, power steering pump, alternator, and air conditioner. A worn out or overused timing belt can cause valve damage, engine failure, camshaft or cylinder damage, and even piston damage.
How often: Replacement typically occurs around 70,000 to 110,000 miles, but it’s always wise to check your owner’s manual first.
Why: Engine filters clean the air that enters your engine, affecting the degree to which your engine needs to work. These prevent dirt and debris from getting inside your engine, so if they’re dirty, overall performance of your vehicle will be impacted.
How often: Engine air filters are checked during your annual state inspection, however, these are typically replaced every 30,000 miles.
Other items that an expert may notice on a case-by-case basis are shocks and struts, windshield wipers, computer diagnostics, exhaust systems, valve stem and TPMS services, transmission, fuel systems, ignition and starting systems, accessories, and much more.
Maintain Your Vehicle the Right Way with Virginia Tire & Auto
When you bring your vehicle in for maintenance at Virginia Tire & Auto, we’ll ensure everything is up to par. As part of our Extra-Mile Oil Change Service, we’ll perform a courtesy 25-point inspection anytime you are in for service.
Find your local shop, and come visit us today!