Preventative Maintenance Tips
that you can do Yourself:
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  Preventive maintenance can
save you money on repairs.

Brake fluid:

Usually in a clear reservoir marked with
minimum and maximum lines.
The brake fluid is also part of a closed system and
should never run low.
This check is done by loosening the top on the
master cylinder and removing the lid,
If fluid is needed consult your
owner's manual for correct type and fill to
recommended level.
Check color of fluid, it should be a golden color.
If the fluid appears brown, it is time to
have the fluid replaced.
If your brakes ever feel a little off,
check the brake fluid first.
Fill if it’s low, but then have the system
checked, there could be a leak or the
brake pads may be wearing.

Service Brakes:

Brakes should be inspected at least twice a year.
The best times are just before summer
and winter to prevent problems
in extreme temperatures.

Transmission fluid:

This check is while the engine is running.
The transmission should be at operating
Remove dipstick, wipe clean, insert
and remove again to check the fluid level.
Be careful not to overfill!
The transmission fluid is part of a closed system
and should be red in color.
If you check it, and it’s brown or
smells burnt, it’s time to replace
the fluid.

Windshield washer fluid:

This check should be done by removing the
cap of the reservoir and filling it with
washer fluid.
Keep it full. It’s important to keep your windshield
clean, especially when there is sun glare.


Most service attendants will offer to check your
oil when the engine is hot.
Some will even show you the dipstick to
validate claim engine needs oil,
( the oldest trick in book to sell you more oil ).
It is then overfull causing a smoky exhaust.

Always check on level ground when the engine
is cold to give accurate reading.

Remove the dipstick, wipe with a paper towel,
reinsert the dipstick completely in the tube.
Remove the dipstick and
read oil level.
The dipstick should have a
normal range indicated.
Add oil only when oil level is at or below
Add Oil mark.
Be careful not to overfill.

Make sure you use the correct oil weight for
your car and climate.

Power steering fluid:

This check is done by removing and
checking the dipstick.
Use the dipstick to check fluid level in the
same way you would the engine oil.
On newer vehicles, you can
visually check the reservoir.
If you hear weird noises as you steer,
or find it hard to steer,
your power steering fluid may be
running low.

This check should be done by removing the
radiator cap from the cool engine or reservoir.
If a refill is needed,
fill with a 50/50 mix of
water and antifreeze.


Make sure the engine is off before
checking the battery.
Safety first!
Wear rubber gloves, battery acid burns the
skin and clothes, so be careful and if you get
battery acid on yourself or clothes,
wash immediately.

Visually check the car battery terminals
(one is marked positive "+" and the other
is marked negative "-").


Before cleaning the connections or
removing the battery, disconnect the
negative terminal first whenever
you disconnect the battery cables
from the terminals.
Removing the positive connector can cause
a spark, especially if you're using a metal
tool that comes in contact with any
piece of metal on the car.
The spark can create an ignition source
that could cause the battery to explode.

Check battery cables and posts for corrosion
and clean them if
Most batteries these days don’t require much in the
way of maintenance, but you should know where it
is and check it to make sure it’s not leaking and
there’s no mineral or other buildup on the
If there is, clean it off with a battery
cleaning brush.

If the "Check Engine" Light is On:

If the Check Engine light comes on and remains on while
you are driving, check to see if you have an emissions or
sensor problem. If the light flashes, check for the problem
as soon as possible, because this is an indication
that there may be a serious problem and
left unchecked, could cause damage to
your car.


Test with a voltmeter.
Connect the meter leads to the battery terminals and look
for 14 to 16 volts (engine running, lights and accessories off).
That means the alternator is working properly.


Inspect all lights including headlights, turn signals,
brake lights
and emergency flashers.
Replace bulbs if they are burnt out.

Wiper Blades:

Inspect wiper blades for cracks, tears,
and windshield contact.

Blades should be replaced at least once a year.
Be sure the wiper arms and springs are in good
shape, and that the blade is held square to the
windshield surface.

Replace your windshield wipers when the
view gets streaky.
Don’t wait until you can barely see through
your windshield.
Also, give your windshield a good cleaning
and out, if it’s hard to see, the problem
may be inside, instead of out.


Check tire inflation regularly.
Under inflated tires wastes fuel
and over
inflated tires can be hazardous.
Use the inflation pressure recommended
by the vehicle’s manufacturer, not the maximum
pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall.

Get your tires rotated and balanced, and your
alignment checked.
Your owner's manual will tell you how often to
do this, and it’s important to do to make sure
your tires wear evenly and your car drives
Your tires last much longer by getting them
rotated and balanced.
Your alignment is just as important.

Air Filter:

Check the air filter every oil change.
The air filter, along with
the other filters
ensures that the vehicle is performing
at it's best.
The filter should be clean, not clogged
or damaged.
If it’s dirty, replace it.

Spark Plugs:

You’ll find either four, six, or eight plugs,
depending on how many cylinders
your car has.
Check spark plug wires to make sure
they are not hard or cracked.
Change your spark plugs if they are
worn out or covered in buildup.

Remove the wire to the first spark
plug only.
Do not remove all of the wires at once.
Your spark plugs are installed in a certain
order, which you need to maintain.

Use a spark plug socket and extension
on your ratchet to remove
the first spark plug.
Install the new spark plug, screwing it in
by hand at first and then tightening it
with a wrench for a snug fit.
Do not over-tighten.
Re-attach the spark plug wire, replace
the other sparks the same way,
one at a time.

If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, ask
your mechanic to check for you.


Check all rubber hoses. Check for cracks,
frays, leaks and bulges.

Engine Belts:

Inspect the engine belts regularly, especially
the serpentine belt.
Worn belts will affect the engine
Look for cracks and missing sections
or segments.

Other Tips:

If there are new rugs or floor mats on
the floor of a used car you're looking at,
check underneath to see if they're
covering rusted out areas of
the flooring.