Car Maintenance Checklist: Other Things to Take Care of During an Oil Change
Last week we talked about changing your oil
, and I went on and on and ran out of room. This week a short list of other safety and maintenance items you should do at the same time.
1. Check the other fluids
- You don't have to change the other fluids often, but you ought to check them, especially if there are any signs of leaks.
- Anti-freeze - You can just pop the radiator cap (but NEVER if it's hot) and look in, it should be just below the level of the cap and you can top it off with tap water.
- Power Steering Fluid - Usually there is a picture of a steering wheel on the cap and a dip stick with a "full" line attached to it, refill with automatic transmission fluid, or power steering fluid.
- Brake Fluid - You can usually see the level without removing the cap, there should be a line indicating the maximum and minimum levels. If you do pop the cap, wipe it clean first so no crud gets in there. The brake fluid should be clear; if not get the system flushed.
- Transmission Fluid - This typically needs to be checked with the car running and either in park or neutral. There is usually a dipstick just for the tranny, and you check and add there with a funnel. Careful you don't overfill it! The lines indicate 1 pint low, not a quart like the engine oil dipstick.
2. Rotate the tires
- Front tires do most of the braking, and on a front-wheel drive car, all of the driving. On rear wheel drive cars the rear wheels do all the driving. On all-wheel drive, they share. This means front wheels and rear wheels wear differently. To even them out swap the fronts for the backs on most cars, or use one of these other handy charts.
Careful: some cars use directional tires, so you can't swap side to side--and some cars use a different size in the back then the front. If you have a car with both, forget rotating them at all.
One last note, if you have a full sized spare that is the same as the other four wheels and tires, be sure to work it into the mix. Check out TireRack.com for details on tire rotations
3. Replace the air filter
- It's cheap and it's easy to do while you're under the hood, so just do it.
4. Check the lights
- You may need a friend for this, but it's quick and easy. Turn the headlights on and off, and the high beams. Step on the brakes. Check the turn signals front and back.
5. Tidy Up
- Wash, wax, clean the windows, vacuum the interior, clean out the junk in your trunk.
And that's pretty much it for periodic maintenance. While rotating those tires, check the air pressure in them and make sure the lug nuts are tight. Of course there are other fluids to check, but the ones I covered are the ones which tend to leak and need checking most frequently. If you see puddles in the driveway, or wet spots somewhere on the underside of the car, make a note of where they are so you can have them checked out next time you go to a mechanic.