Your car is more than just a vehicle, it’s a reflection of you – and keeping it well-maintained is the key to ensuring it looks its best, runs smoothly, and continues delivering you reliably to your destination for years to come.
At Sun Stoppers, we believe in the value of good maintenance. That’s why we’ve spent the last 20 years expertly applying window tint to protect your car’s interior from damaging UV rays.
But maintaining your car goes beyond just window tint!
Today, we want to share our comprehensive checklist for maintaining your car and keeping it in top-tier shape.
Let’s get started!
Monthly Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
It’s a good idea to check over the basic functions of your car every month or so. Here’s a checklist of the maintenance tasks you should perform monthly:
Check your tire pressure and condition.Use a tire pressure gauge to ensure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. Check for unusual wear, cuts, punctures, or bulges on your tires, and talk to your mechanic or local tire shop employee if you see anything concerning. Finally, check the tire tread depth using a tread depth gauge or a penny.
Check the oil level and change the oil if necessary.Typically you should change your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or every six months, but that may vary depending on what type of oil you use and how often you drive in harsh conditions. But even if your car isn’t due for an oil change, make sure to check the oil levels every month.
Rotate your tires if necessary.You don’t need to rotate your tires every month, but a good rule of thumb is to get them rotated every time you take your car in for an oil change. Rotating them frequently helps them wear down evenly and increases the lifespan of your tires overall.
Check all fluid levels.This includes coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Make sure the level is between the “minimum” and “maximum” marks, or between the “low” and “full” marks. With windshield washer fluid, just make sure you have enough to clean your windshield sufficiently.
Inspect belts and hoses.Familiarize yourself with the serpentine belt, timing belt, radiator hoses, heater hoses, power steering hoses, and fuel hoses. Briefly check over them looking for cracks, leaks, signs of wear, or other damage. Talk to your mechanic if you see anything concerning, or change it yourself if you’re handy with car repairs.
Clean and inspect battery terminals.Your car battery has two terminals – a positive terminal and a negative terminal – that connect the battery cables to the battery. If the terminals are dirty or corroded, the electrical system may malfunction. You can clean your terminals with a steel wire brush and terminal cleaner or use baking soda, water, and an old toothbrush.
Remember to always disconnect the cables while cleaning so you don’t receive a nasty shock!
Check all lights.Turn on your car and inspect all the interior and exterior lights to ensure they work. You can check most of the lights yourself, but you’ll need a friend to pump the brakes while you check the brake lights.
Clean your windshield and other windows.If you want your car to look nice and keep you safe, regularly clean your windows so you can see your surroundings as you drive! For best results, use a high-quality glass cleaner and a microfiber towel, and clean the windows inside and out. And remember to add a window tint for fantastic-looking windows!
Wash your car.If your vehicle doesn’t look dirty, you may not need to wash it every month. However, frequent washing is necessary to keep it looking nice and remove contaminants that may damage the paint. If you’re driving on salted roads in the winter, spray underneath the car every week or two to prevent rust.
Note: If you add a ceramic coat, your car will look great for longer, and it may not need to be washed as often.
Check your paint and apply wax if necessary.Many experts recommend waxing every 3-6 months, depending on your local conditions and preferences. However, you can skip this step if your car has a ceramic coating.
While this may seem like a daunting list, once you get used to it, you’ll be able to quickly check over your car every month, give it a good wash and an oil change if necessary, and feel peace of mind that your vehicle is in excellent condition!
Yearly Maintenance Checklist
Many maintenance tasks only need to be done yearly, although you may need to perform them more often if you’re frequently driving in rough conditions.
You can do some maintenance tasks yourself, but most of them you should leave to your mechanic unless you have a lot of experience fixing cars. That’s why we recommend an annual checkup even if you’re not experiencing any issues.
Here’s your yearly maintenance checklist:
Replace the engine air filter.Dust, dirt, and other contaminants in the air can damage your engine, so having a clean engine air filter is essential! Change your engine air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or about once a year for the average driver. Changing the filter is relatively simple if you’d like to tackle the project yourself.
Check your cabin air filter.The cabin air filter cleans the air that enters your car’s interior. It can last 15,000 to 25,000 miles, so you may not need to change it yearly. However, you should pop it out and check to see if it’s dirty. It’s typically located behind the glove compartment or under the passenger-side dashboard, but if you have trouble finding it, consult your vehicle owner’s manual.
Replace windshield wiper blades.You should typically replace your windshield wiper blades every year. However, just keep an eye on them since they’re right in front of your face as you drive. If they leave streaks, squeak, skip patches, or look bent or damaged in any way, it’s probably time for a new pair. You can pick them up at an auto parts store, a big box store, or online – just be sure to buy the right size!
Ask your mechanic to check and replace brake pads and rotors if necessary.You don’t need to replace your brake pads and rotors yearly, but you should check them yearly. Furthermore, keep an eye on your brakes by paying close attention as you press them. If you hear squeaking, squealing, or grinding, feel unusual vibrations, or take longer than usual to stop, take your car in to be checked by a mechanic.
Ask your mechanic to check the suspension and steering components.In addition to your yearly checkup, call your mechanic if you notice unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues.
Ask your mechanic to inspect the exhaust system.You can also take a flashlight and look at the system yourself, checking for damage, such as holes or rust. Call your mechanic if you notice any odd smells or noises from the exhaust system.
Ask your mechanic to test the battery and charging system.If you want to perform this task yourself, you’ll need a digital multimeter to test the battery voltage and alternator output, and a battery load tester to test the battery’s ability to hold a charge.
Detail the interior of your car.How often you detail will be up to your personal taste, but detailing will keep your vehicle looking fantastic, so it’s nice to do it at least once a year.
Vehicle Maintenance Tasks to Do Every Few Years
By following these monthly and yearly checklists, you can keep your car in amazing shape for years!
However, some maintenance tasks don’t need to be performed yearly, but you should generally keep an eye on them. Those are:
Replace the spark plugs.
Spark plugs can wear out after anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 miles.
Replace the timing belt.This should be done every 5-7 years.
Flush and replace the coolant.The frequency of this task varies depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Flush and replace brake fluid.This should be done every 2-3 years, although sometimes it can go longer depending on the car.
Inspect and replace the fuel filter.Fuel filters typically last about two years.
Inspect and replace transmission fluid and filter.This may need to be done every 2-4 years, but some newer cars don’t require it. Consult your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Preventative Maintenance Tasks
Most of the maintenance tasks we’ve listed involve checking and replacing components when necessary. But good maintenance is about more than just replacing worn-out parts; it involves taking steps to prevent damage before it happens.
Here are three products you can install on your car to preserve it longer and reduce overall maintenance.
Add window tint.Window tint isn’t just handy for keeping your car cool; it also prevents sun damage to your vehicle interior and protects your eyes and skin. Read our Ultimate Guide to Car Window Tint to learn more!
Add a ceramic coating.Ceramic coating is an alternative to waxing that gives your car a fantastic shine. But instead of needing to be re-applied every few months, like wax, ceramic coating lasts for years. For more info on this great product, read our Guide to Understanding Ceramic Coating.
Add a paint protection film. Applying a paint protection film is the best way to protect your car’s paint from road debris, rock chips, sand, and bugs. Read more about paint protection film in our blog post: Paint Protection Film – Everything You Need to Know.
At Sun Stoppers, we appreciate the beauty of a well-maintained car.
That’s why we offer a variety of preventative maintenance services. Whether you’re looking for a ceramic coating, a paint protection film, or automotive window tint, we have you covered!
Our knowledgeable staff will expertly apply the products, creating a beautiful finish that lasts for years.
Use our store locator to find a location near you, or click here to get a free quote today!
We look forward to hearing from you.