How to Create a Preventive Maintenance Checklist

by Erica Roth

It's a fact of life--sometimes an expensive fact--that cars must be repaired from time to time. Some auto repairs are unforeseen and just something that you need to deal with when it comes up. Preventive maintenance--routine things like having your tires rotated and your oil changed--can help make your car run better and can keep major and costly repairs at bay. Create a preventive maintenance checklist to keep in your car so you will not forget when your vehicle needs servicing.

Get a small notebook that will fit in the glove compartment of your car. Keep the notebook where you will create your checklist in the car at all times so you will have repair information at your fingertips.

Write down headings on your page, either as a chart or a list. Use terms such as "Tires," "Oil," "Battery," "Belts and Hoses," "Filters," "Shocks" and maybe add "Miscellaneous." These are just a few of the areas of your car that need upkeep to maintain optimal running condition. You can make your checklist longer if you prefer to have several, more narrow categories.

Read the owner's manual that came with your car thoroughly. Most manuals of this kind give recommendations about how often you should change the oil, buy new tires, install a new battery and so on. Use these bits of information as a starting point, called "Recommendations," for your preventive maintenance checklist.

Use repair receipts and records to note down on your checklist when you have had certain parts replaced or serviced in your car. Write down the date, the service that was performed and the mileage of the car if you know this information (you could call this the "Repairs Performed" column). Knowing when a service was last performed can help you keep track of when your car will be due for a checkup again.

Compare your "Recommendations" column that you took from your owner's manual with the "Repairs Performed" column to see if you are up-to-date on your car's maintenance.

Find a local mechanic that you trust. In addition to working on your car, he can tell you, in his professional opinion, what preventive maintenance your car could use and if you will be needing more work done in the near future. Employing someone you trust makes it easier to compile and stick to a checklist without feeling like you are going to be swindled. Find a local auto mechanic from Mechanic Advisor (see Resources).

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