Car Maintenance Checklist: Most Important Services for Car Health

March 2nd, 2015 by

Auto Checklist

Buying a car isn’t necessarily the biggest expense of owning a car. If you don’t keep your car maintained, you’ll find yourself paying out hundreds and thousands of dollars for repairs — over and over again. The best thing you can do to keep the cost of owning a car low is to stick to a regular maintenance schedule.

While the exact schedule varies by the make and model of car, all vehicles need the same routine maintenance. Add this schedule to your smart phone or calendar app to make sure you don’t miss any important maintenance for your vehicle. Then check your owner’s manual to make sure the mileage lines up with your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Oil Change

An oil change is one of the most important and frequent car maintenance tasks. An oil change removes the old, dirty oil and filter and replaces it. By keeping fresh oil and a fresh filter in your car, you keep your engine well-lubricated and running smoothly. Letting dirty oil stay in the car can cause your engine to work harder and to heat up, potentially leading to expensive malfunctions.

Most vehicles need an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or about every three months — whichever comes sooner. However, if you opt for a higher-quality synthetic oil change, you may be able to go longer between oil changes. Some oil brands claim you can go up to 15,000 miles or a whole year between oil changes when you opt for synthetic oil.

For the best oil change, Cincinnati residents know to trust McCluskey Chevrolet. Our technicians perform both standard and synthetic oil changes from top-quality oil brands.

Tire Rotation and Balance

The health of your tires has a big impact on your car’s performance and on your fuel economy. When the tread on your tires wears down, your engine has to work harder, using more fuel. When the tread on your tires wears down unevenly, it can cause the alignment of your car to go out of balance, putting pressure on the axles, joints and other critical parts.

Tire rotation involves removing the tires and putting them back on in a different location, promoting more even wear. You should have your tires rotated every 3,000 to 6,000 miles, or you can just have it done when you get your oil changed.

Your tires also must be balanced, which means that the weight of the tires must be evenly distributed around the wheel. If your tires are not balanced, they could cause serious vibrations that can cause problems for your car. Your tires should be balanced by a mechanic every 4,000 to 6,000 miles, so you can include the service with your tire rotation and oil change. Cincinnati dealer McCluskey Chevrolet offers all these services and more.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid helps your car handle more smoothly. Without the right levels of fresh power steering fluid, your car will be hard to turn. You’ll notice that you have to grapple with the steering wheel much more when the fluid gets low or dirty.

Maintaining the power steering fluid is one of the easiest car maintenance tasks to oversee. You can check levels with the dipstick and top them off yourself. Or you can ask your mechanic to check and top off levels when you bring your car in for other maintenance, such as an oil change.

Air Filter

Your car’s air filter helps to keep your engine free of contaminants and help it to maintain a more constant temperature. A dirty air filter can increase your fuel consumption and cause your car to run hotter. Just driving through the city every day can dirty your air filter fast. However, even if you live in the country, your air filter can be clogged with leaves, pine needles and other debris.

Luckily, your air filter is resilient. It only needs to be replaced about every 12,000 miles, or about once a year. You should replace it more frequently as needed. Make sure to double check your car’s manual though. Some models have other components, like oxygen sensors, that have to be replaced at the same time as the air filter.

Fuel Filter

Many contemporary car models have a fuel-injection system, which is constantly moving while the car is on. All of that movement puts a lot of demand on the system, which can cause the injectors to become clogged. A clean fuel filter is essential to the proper functioning of the whole system. Replacing the filter on time will also improve your fuel efficiency.

In most models, the fuel filter only has to be replaced every 24,000 miles or every two years.

Automatic Transmission Fluid and Filter

Transmission fluid is just as important to your transmission as oil is to your engine. It helps to keep the system lubricated and properly functioning. When the fluid runs low or becomes dirty with impurities, it can cause the transmission to become clogged or to overheat. Simply keeping the transmission fluid changed can help you avoid costly repairs.

Fortunately, your transmission fluid doesn’t have to be changed as frequently as your oil. Your car needs new transmission fluid and a filter every 24,000 miles or every two years.

Spark Plugs

A lot of engine trouble can be traced back to a bad spark plug. Perhaps your car won’t start or the headlights won’t turn on. You could have some corroded spark plugs that need to be replaced. Instead of waiting until there’s a problem or you are stuck on the side of the road, you should have your spark plugs checked out on a regular schedule.

In general, your spark plugs should be replaced every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. This is a wide range, so it’s best to schedule the service annually or bi-annually to catch any problems before they occur. Ask your mechanic to check the spark plugs during every other inspection (more frequent if you drive a lot during the year).


Your engine has a system of belts that help all the parts work together in the right way and at the right time. Belts operate everything from your alternator to your water pump, and they make sure that your engine doesn’t self-destruct. When a belt breaks down, it can result in one of your biggest repair bills.

Save yourself a lot of money and headache by having your belts inspected every 36,000 miles or three years. The timing belt doesn’t need to be inspected until the 60,000 to 90,000 mile mark.

Car maintenance is one of those things you know you need to do, but can be easy to overlook. Most people don’t do more than take care of their tire rotation or oil change. Cincinnati dealership McCluskey Chevrolet makes it easy for you to take care of all your car maintenance on schedule and on budget. Our experienced technicians expertly perform the work and provide tailored recommendations for your vehicle to keep it in top shape. Call our service station today to schedule your car maintenance today and to get on the right schedule for your particular make and model.