The Car Maintenance Checklist You Need


It’s easy to put off maintenance checks on your vehicle until something comes up. Caring for your car and keeping it running in tip-top condition does take a little bit of effort, but the good news is you don’t have to be a master mechanic to perform maintenance checks. Following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule is one of the most important ways to maximize its performance, longevity and resale value. At Steve Landers Kia, we know that taking care of your vehicle can seem overwhelming, so we’ve made it easier for you by compiling this list of routine maintenance checks for your vehicle. Some of these parts should be checked regularly, while others are long-term maintenance checks. Don’t forget to print out our simple checklist at the end of the blog to keep up with your car’s maintenance needs! 


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Monthly Checks

  • Oil

Check the oil levels in your car after the engine has been off for at least ten minutes to allow the oil to settle and cool off. Then, remove the oil dipstick and clean it off with a towel. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out to determine the oil level. The dip stick is marked with a maximum and minimum oil level indicators. The oil should be near maximum, but if it’s below the minimum, add more oil. A low reading can also indicate an oil leak or that your engine is burning oil, so make note of how often you are topping off the oil level. Secondly, pay attention to the color of the oil. If it is dark brown or black, it’s time for an oil change!

  • Coolant

Maintaining proper coolant levels prevents the engine from overheating. Check coolant levels when the engine is off and cool. Look in the coolant tank near the radiator and check if the coolant is above the minimum indicator. If your vehicle doesn’t have a coolant tank, open the radiator cap, making sure the engine is completely cool when you do, to see if the coolant fluid is filled to the top. Before you add coolant to your vehicle, make sure it is approved for your vehicle.

  • Tires

Check your tire inflation and tread depth monthly with a tire pressure gauge. You can find the vehicle’s recommended tire pressure in the driver’s manual. To check tire tread, use the penny test: stick a penny in between the tread with Lincoln’s head down and facing you. If you can see the top of Abe's head, it’s time to replace your tires!

  • Vehicle Lights

Ensure the headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights on your vehicle are working properly. Get a friend to stand behind your vehicle while you test the brake and turn signals, and turn on your lights and walk around the car to check the headlights and taillights.

  • Hoses

Inspect hoses for cracks, bulges, or nicks. Have hoses replaced if they're brittle and rotten.

  • Battery

Check your car’s battery for corrosion (powdery deposits) caused by battery acid around the battery posts. You can clean this powder off with a rag or old toothbrush. If the casing of your battery is cracked, you should replace the battery, and if the cables are frayed, they should be replaced as well. 


Check Every Three Months 

  • Windshield Washer Fluid 

Check your owner’s manual to locate the windshield washer fluid reservoir. Check the levels and refill as needed. 

  • Engine Air Filter

Locate the air filter in your owner’s manual, then remove the lid of the air filter box and hold the filter up to the light. If you drop the filter a few times to release dirt and light still doesn’t stream through, you should replace the engine filter. Make sure you replace the filter the same way it was removed.

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid 

Locate the automatic transmission dipstick, pull it out and clean with a rag. Notice the fill indicators of the dipstick, then fully reinsert. Remove the dipstick and notice the indicators. If the fluid does not come up to the “warm” line, you need to add more transmission fluid.

  • Power Steering Fluid 

Turn off the engine, then locate the power steering reservoir. Check the fluid levels with either a small dipstick or level markers on the reservoir. If the fluid is low, fill to just below the fill line.

  • Belts

Most cars have a single, multi-grooved serpentine belt. To inspect the belt, look for cracks, fraying, or splits, and glazing on the belt’s sides. Check a serpentine belt by twisting the belt to look for separating layers or cracks. If the belt is cracked, fraying, or damaged, it should be replaced.

Oil and Oil Filter


Your oil and oil filter should be changed every three months or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Check the oil with your dipstick and observe the color and texture. If the oil is smooth, slick, and amber in color, it’s all good. If it is gritty and/or dark brown or black in color, it’s time for an oil change. 


Check Every Six to 12 Months

  • Chassis Inspection and Lubrication 

If you’re handy, you may be able to inspect and lubricate the chassis yourself. Otherwise, chassis inspection and lubrication can be performed by our Service Technicians at Steve Landers Kia Service Center. The chassis should be inspected and lubricated roughly every six months. 

  • Wiper Blades

Inspect your wiper blades and replace them if they are worn, cracked, or streak when in use. Remember that some modern cars, only the rubber blade itself is replaced, not the entire wiper frame, so check your owner's manual before discarding old wipers.

  • Horn

Test the car horn to ensure it works properly.

  • Spare Tire

Check your spare tire to ensure it is fully inflated. You don’t want to be stuck with a punctured tire and a flat spare!

  • Cabin Air Filter 

Locate your cabin air filter in your owner’s manual. Sometimes cabin air filters can be difficult to remove, so it could require professional assistance to inspect and change.

  • Wax and Wash Your Vehicle

You should be washing your vehicle regularly, but every six months you should also wax it. Waxing your vehicle can protect the paint from damage and prevent rusting.

  • Check Wheel Alignment

Irregular tread wear can indicate wheel alignment issues. If you notice your vehicle pulling to the right or the left when you loosen your grip on the wheel, you may need an alignment. You can make an appointment for your vehicle’s alignment at our service center here.

  • Transfer Case Fluid in Four-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

Vehicles with four-wheel or all-wheel drive should have their transfer case fluid changed every 30,000 miles; however, every vehicle is different, and each manufacturer has different recommendations. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often your transfer case fluid should be changed. 


See? That wasn’t so bad! Once you start making these routine checks, they’ll become a part of your routine, and your car will thank you! If you need a routine maintenance check, oil change, tire rotation, or more, we can help you out at our Service Center! At Steve Landers Kia, our talented Service Technicians can assist you with all your questions and concerns about your vehicle’s maintenance. To make an appointment with our service center, simply make a call, or schedule an appointment online. Don’t forget to print out our handy car maintenance checklist to keep track of your vehicle’s service needs! 


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Categories: Car Tips