Basic Car Maintenance Checklist: How to Service Your Vehicle All Year

Feb 20, 2020

Here’s a pro-tip to keeping your vehicle maintained: Check-up every season.

Our cars are like us—they need proper, routine checks to stay healthy. Here’s a basic seasonal guide to auto maintenance that you can DIY at home or review with your local mechanic.

Note: Maintenance may vary for higher-mileage vehicles or vehicles driven in extreme temperatures.


  • Monitor your fluids

​​For fluid maintenance, check the power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant. Top off anything that’s getting too low, and flush whatever systems are recommended by the manufacturer. And of course, make sure you’re not due for an oil change.

  • Checks and balances

Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and enough tread (try the penny test). And be sure to check your lights (interior and exterior), battery, brakes, belts, and hoses.

  • Replace your windshield wiper blades

Spring showers will bring heavy usage of your windshield wiper blades, so this time of year works well for an annual replacement.

  • Replace your filters

Check your oil filter (learn how to choose the right one), engine air filter, cabin air filter, and fuel filter to make sure they’re all in good shape, and replace whatever needs it.


  • Monitor your fluids

Check your power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant. Now’s a good time to look under the car to make sure there are no leaks, too.

  • Checks and balances

First and foremost, check your tire pressure, as rising temperatures may affect your tire pressure and lead to flats or blowouts. Also check on your brakes, filters, hoses, and belts. (Your windshield wipers should be fine since you just replaced them.)

  • Don’t forget your air conditioning

Nobody wants to be without AC once the heat sets in. Have a professional monitor your refrigerant levels and check for leaks.

  • Change your oil

High temperatures, long road trips and towing loads can mean a hotter engine that asks more of your motor oil. Make sure you change your oil and oil filter regularly and consider upgrading to a synthetic for extra protection. Worried about switching from conventional to synthetic? Don't be.  


  • Monitor your fluids

Make sure all of your fluids are covered, including power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant.

  • Checks and balances

Check your HVAC system to make sure all components are running smoothly for changing temperatures. And check your battery, brakes, exhaust system, windshield wipers, lights, hoses, and belts.

  • Inspect your steering and suspension

An annual check-in will serve you well when it comes to your shock absorbers, struts, chassis parts, and other related parts.

  • Get a tune-up

It’s never a bad idea to get an annual tune-up, and fall’s a great time with winter weather coming up shortly. Let a professional look under the hood and make sure your year’s worth of maintenance has gone according to plan.


  • Monitor your fluids

Always keep your gas tank at least half full, make sure you’re using the right coolant (to keep it from freezing), and for older vehicles, consider switching to a thinner viscosity of motor oil.

  • Checks and balances

Make sure to check your tire pressure, battery life, breaks, windshield wipers, spark plugs, and lights to make sure they’re all performing smoothly and nothing needs to be replaced.

  • Test your exhaust system

A leaky exhaust system can be especially dangerous during the winter, so now’s the time for an annual check-up.

  • Pack an emergency kit

You’re more likely to get stuck somewhere in the winter, so make sure you’ve packed jumper cables, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand or kitty litter (for stuck tires), tire chains, a flashlight, extra windshield wiper fluid, and warm clothes like gloves, boots, and a blanket. It wouldn’t hurt to keep some snacks in the glove box too.

Learn more car maintenance tips & tricks from

What is coolant and why do I need it?

When is it okay to patch a tire?

How to change your oil

What oil is best for your engine?


Download a printable version of this maintenance schedule here.

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Tags: Maintenance, DIY