- number of trips and distance traveled per trip per day
- extreme hot or cold climate conditions
- mountainous, dusty or de-iced roads
- heavy stop-and-go vs. long-distance cruising
- towing a trailer or other heavy load
- driving style
Experienced service advisors in dealerships and independent shops
recommend schedule intervals, which are often in between the ideal or extreme service schedule. They base it on the driving conditions and behavior of the car owner or driver.
Common car maintenance tasks include:
- Car wash
- check/replace the engine oil and replace oil filters
- check/replace fuel filters
- inspect or replace windshield wipers
- check or refill windshield washer fluid
- inspect tires for pressure and wear
- Tire balancing
- Tire rotation
- Wheel alignment
- check, clean or replace battery terminals and top up battery fluid
- inspect or replace brake pads
- check or flush brake fluid
- check or flush transmission fluid
- check or flush power steering fluid
- check and flush engine coolant
- inspect or replace spark plugs
- inspect or replace air filter
- inspect or replace timing belt and other belts
- lubricate locks, latches, hinges
- check all lights
- tighten chassis nuts and bolts
- check if rubber boots are cracked and need replacement
- test electronics, e.g., Anti-lock braking system or ABS
- read fault codes from the Engine control unit
Some tasks that have equivalent service intervals are combined into one single service known as a tune-up. In modern cars, where electronics control most of the car's functions, the traditional tune-up doesn't apply anymore. Maintenance jobs like a tune-up used to mean getting the engine's performance back on track. Today embedded software takes care of it by constantly checking thousands of sensor signals, compensating for worn-out spark plugs, clogged filters, etc. The so-called limp-home function allows driving on limited power when the engine is in trouble. In the old days this might have meant a breakdown.
Routine car maintenance is related to vehicle fuel economy. Some of the procedures include:
1) Ensure tires are properly inflated. The owners manual for the vehicle will indicate the proper pressure to inflate you tires to. Decreased tire pressure increases the rolling resistance of your tires and decreases fuel economy, and may also increase tire wear and impair performance.
2) The thermostat, oxygen or O2 sensor should be replaced either at a manufacturer recommended interval or when a electronic fault code/ low temperature problem is detected. Electronically fuel injected vehicles have an O2 sensor or sensors in their exhaust system which helps the vehicles computer determine how to optimize fuel economy. These O2 sensors may need to be changed periodically for a vehicle to optimize it's air fuel mixture and maximize it's fuel economy.
Insure vehicle air filters are clean. Black or otherwise dirty air filters make your engine work harder to get enough air for proper combustion and decrease its efficiency; however, electronically fuel injected cars can automatically compensate for the decreased air flow caused by a dirty air filter and experience relatively little decrease in fuel economy. Most owners’ manuals will recommend a service interval at which to change the air filter, but periodic visual inspection is the best way to ensure that the air filter is clean.
3) Using the recommended weight of oil can decrease the burden on the engine. Heavier oil weights, such as 20W-50, are harder to maneuver through the engine than, for example, 10W-30 or 5W-20 oils. The result can cause a decrease in fuel economy.