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    A Guide for Seasonal Car Care

Learn what it takes to keep your vehicle running smoothly all year round.

Rich Diegle
Automotive Technical Editor

Regardless what you've named your vehicle or how “attached” you are to it, the fact is, it’s still a machine. And because it’s a machine, it needs to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. A well-maintained vehicle gets better fuel economy, is safer and is less likely to leave you stranded.

One of the best ways to keep your vehicle on the road and running strong is by performing frequent inspections and regular maintenance. The table below lists inspections and services that should be performed throughout the year, with recommendations for the time of year that is best for each type of service.

You can accomplish some of the following simple inspection items yourself and visit a qualified repair shop to complete the services that a professional should tackle.




 Check the Cooling System
  • Hoses
  • Radiator cap
  • Coolant level & condition - replace every 24 months*
  • Pressure test system
  • Radiator cooling fan (s)
  • Water pump

 Check Drive Belts

  • Cracks
  • Tension
  • Glazing

 Check all Fluid for Condition, Leaks and Levels –
  replace as recommended in your owner’s manual

  • Oil – replace every 3,000 miles*
  • Coolant – flush and refill every 24 months*
  • Brake fluid
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Automatic Transmission fluid
  • Battery fluid and terminals
  • Hydraulic clutch fluid (if equipped)

 Check or Replace Filters

  • Air
  • Oil – replace every 3,000 miles*
  • Fuel
  • Emissions Canister
  • PCV
  • Cabin Air (if equipped)

 Brake System Checks and Service

  • Check brake components (pads, rotors, shoes, drums, hydraulic parts)
  • Check the brake fluid

 Check Tires:

  • Proper inflation – make sure to include the spare tire
  • Abnormal or uneven wear – if so, get the vehicle aligned
  • Damage – visible defects such as nails, cuts, or bulges in the side walls

 Rotate Tires

 Wiper Blades

  • Replace worn blades

 Lights and Horn

  • Test the brake lights, turn signals and headlights on to make sure they work properly and have enough illumination.
  • Tap the horn a few times to make sure it sounds loudly every time.

 Exhaust system

  • Leaks and mounting

 Air Conditioning System Checks

  • Check A/C operation.
  • Clean the condenser cleaned with compressed air to remove any accumulated debris.

 Shocks, Struts and Bearings

  • Check wheel bearings, seals
    • Adjustment
    • Grease wheel bearings if necessary
  • Check shocks/struts/springs
    • Leaks
    • Sagging

* Replacement intervals are recommended for optimum vehicle performance and protection. Consult your owner’s manual for the specific manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for your vehicle.

Warnings and Precautions

  • When raising the vehicle off the ground, be sure to chock any wheel remaining on the ground. If a jack is used, be sure to use jack stands to safely support the vehicle.
  • Do not drain any fluids when hot. Contact with hot fluids can result in severe burns.
  • Wear protective clothing, including impervious gloves to protect skin from contaminants.
  • Wear eye protection such as goggles or a face shield when performing any service procedure.
  • Never operate the engine in an enclosed area. Exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which is harmful to health and potentially lethal. Repair exhaust leaks immediately.
  • Used oil and filters must be disposed of properly and in accordance to local, state and federal laws.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or professional advice.