The Ultimate DIY Car Maintenance Checklist

The Ultimate DIY Car Maintenance Checklist

With the gradual inflation of product prices every year, buying a new car can be expensive for many people. In this practical case, it is important to take care of the car you already have and ensure its longevity and consistent performance. Maintaining your car can be demanding and effortful, but it’s not something you need to have a mechanical genius in. You can easily perform routine maintenance of your car just by knowing the basics about what your car actually needs.
Here is your ultimate DIY car maintenance checklist that will tell you everything about how to take care of your car in the best possible way!

Car Maintenance

Importance of Punctuality in Car Maintenance

    • Regular car maintenance is important in order to ensure that all crucial components of the car are functional and in working condition.
    •  Many components of the car are pivotal in the operation and safety of the vehicle. These include fuel oil, coolant, the battery, brakes, and clutch. These components wear out in course of time, especially faster when you drive your car too frequently and for many miles. Their condition can also decline if you don’t use your vehicle at all. In either case, proper replacement and maintenance of these components is required.
    •  If you ever think of reselling your car, you will be able to ask for the best price if your vehicle is well-maintained and in top-running condition.

Impact of Neglecting Car Maintenance

    • Effect on Vehicle Life: Ignorance of the car’s maintenance requirement will lead to the deterioration of its components such as engine oil and brakes. As oil deteriorates, its capacity to lubricate the car engine declines. This might lead to engine failure, considerably cutting down the life of your vehicle. Similarly, when brake pads wear out, their ability to bring the vehicle to a stop declines, thus compromising the safety of passengers and drivers.
    • Effect on Insurance: Regular car maintenance cost is an expected expense of the customer, and hence is not covered by insurance agencies. Car insurance is also significantly affected due to poor maintenance. If the insurance company finds that maintenance is direful, they might not cover the damage or even increase your premium. In case of an accident due to poor maintenance reasons, only the driver is liable for the damages incurred.
    • Major Repair Costs Due to Lack of Maintenance: Lack of maintenance can eventually lead to heavy repair costs. The more you neglect you can maintenance, the heavier will your repair expense be. For example, engine oil needs be changed regularly. Failing to do so will lead to formation of sludge in the engine, and its repair will be expensive. Similarly, the transmission, clutch and brake systems of the car also need timely maintenance. Some repairs are so complex and expensive that some automobile repair service centers reject working on them.

The Perfect Maintenance Guide for Your Car

 The components of your car demand varied degrees of upkeep and maintenance. Some components need monthly checks, while some need annual ones. Some components need to be maintained occasionally.
Here is your most comprehensive DIY car maintenance checklist that will help you keep your car in its best possible shape.

1. Important Monthly Checks for Your Car

Component of Car Maintenance Guidelines
Motor/Engine Oil
  • Check the engine oil level and ensure it’s within the optimum range.
  • You can change the fuel oil yourself with the help of a car jack and other such tools.
  • Most modern cars use synthetic oil which costs between 227 AED to 459 AED.
  • Checking the tire pressure is important as tires can often lose a lot of pressure.
  • You can inflate your tires to the correct pressure level from a local repair shop.
  • A tire pressure gauge comes in handy if you want to check your tire pressure accurately.
Headlights & Brake Lights
  • A damaged brake light might often go unnoticed, which is why you should keep an eye on the back of your car.
  • Similarly, keep checking the headlights and the blinker (turn signal) of the car to ensure they’re in proper working condition.
Wiper Blades
  • The wiper blades are very important in order to ensure safe driving, especially during rainy or snowy weather conditions.
  • Keep checking the blades for any signs of wear and tear and get the damaged ones replaced.
  • Check the windshield glass for any signs of damage.
  • Check on the windshield washer fluid and get the windshield washer reservoir refilled as and when required.
  • You should never forget to wash your car properly on a regular basis.
  • Washing your car at least once every 2-3 weeks helps protect its paint, improve visibility through the windshield and windowpanes, and preserve its resale value.
  • It also removes any corrosive agents, if present, from the surface of the car.

2. Car Maintenance Checks on A Three-Month Basis

Component of CarMaintenance Guidelines
Motor/Engine Oil
  • It is important to change/filter the motor oil when the car has reached its recommended mileage.
  • Changing oil becomes more important if you have an older car.
  •  Always use branded engine oils of good quality for your car.
Engine & Radiotor
  • Check the radiator hoses for any signs of tears, holes or loose connections. Defective radiator connections can lead to poor heat exchange and cooling of the engine.
  •  Check the engine for any kind of damage on the serpentine belt, timing belts and wiring.
  • You can prevent overheating of your car on hot summer days by ensuring the cooling system of the vehicle is in proper working order.
  • Corrosion of battery terminals and short circuits can lead to battery failures, dimming of headlights, reduction of engine power, etc.
  •   Keep an eye on the car battery to ensure no or minimum electrical faultiness.
Transmission Fluid
  • Check on the transmission fluid to ensure it in at optimum level.

  •  Older transmission fluid is darker in color and should be replaced.

  • The fluid should be immediately replaced if there is a burning smell from the transmission system.

Brakes & Doors
  •  Attentively listen for any unusual noises, such as grinding or squealing, which are clear signs of excessive wearing of brakes.
  • Check on the brake fluid level and the thickness of the brake pads.
  • You must replace your brake pads if they are any less than ¼ -inch thick.
  • You should also keep the door hinges of your car lubricated in order to ensure smooth movements.

Car Maintenance Checks to Be Done Every Six Months

Component of CarMaintenance Guidelines
Wiper Blades
  •  The windshield wipers should be replaced if they start to streak or fail to clear the windshield
  • Check the coolant level and ensure its in good condition if you notice your vehicle heating up unnaturally.
  • Replace the coolant immediately if it starts becoming dark and sticky.
Suspension & Steering
  • Properly check for any defects or loose attachments in the suspension system of the car. You can use a hydraulic jack to raise your car to a certain height.
  • Carefully inspect the indicator panel and the steering system of your car to ensure everything is in proper functioning condition. Listen for noises and vibrations to know if there is any faulty element present.
  •  Tires should be rotating after a certain amount of time to promote even wear.
  • Evenly wore tires put less strain on the suspension system of the car and also ensure a smoother and safer ride, thus increasing the longevity of your vehicle.
Brake Fluid
  • Check if the brake fluid is at an optimum level.
  • Darker color, thicker consistency and presence of sediments conclude that the fluid is in a really poor condition and needs replacement as soon as possible.
Exhaust System
  •   Driving your car on uneven terrain (off-roading) can often damage and wear out your exhaust system.
  •   Check for leaks, rust or other signs of damage and also inspect if the catalytic converter is in proper condition.

Car Maintenance Checklist to Be Followed Annually

Component of CarMaintenance Guidelines
Engine Air Filter
  • It is advised that you replace your engine air filter at least once a year after having driven an average annual mileage (12,000-15,000 miles).
  • Clogged air filters can lead to lower fuel efficiency and engine misfires.
  • Check for blockages and clogs in the air filter, especially if you live in dusty areas.
  • Make sure the tires aren’t too worn out by keeping a check on the tire tread depth.
  • Uneven wear in tires can overstress your suspension system and also cause discomfort in your driving experience. Hence, you should keep rotating the tires in order to promote even wear.
Steering System
  • Check if your power steering is working smoothly.
  • The power steering might often feel slow, noisy, and unrefined if the system is low on the fluid.
  • Refill the power steering fluid and ensure it attains the correct level.
Cabin Air Filter
  • People who live in dusty areas tend to use their A/Cs more often, which makes their air filter get dirtier quickly.
  • It is advised that you replace your cabin air filter at least once a year to ensure proper circulation of clean and pure air inside your car all the time.
Fuel System
  • Inspect the pump and the engine of your car thoroughly and check for any kinds of leaks in the hoses.
  • Defects in the fuel system can often be distinguished by a certain odor from the system.
  • You should wax the body of your car at least once a year.
  • Waxing of the car protects its paint coating and helps maintain its shine and color.
  • It also protects the car body from acid rain and dust particles, and prevents rusting of the car surface.

5. Occasional Car Maintenance Checks

Here are some additional checks that you can perform as and when needed to keep your car in excellent condition:

    • Spare parts for many car models can’t be promptly made available all the time. In such cases, you must keep spares for headlights and tail lights in store in case they’re burnt or broken.
    • The wheel alignment of cars is often disturbed when you hit a big speed breaker or a pothole. You must check for the same in order to avoid faulty driving.
    •  If your car doesn’t start up properly, it probably means the engine is misfiring. You can check the spark plugs in this case and get them replaced if they are worn out.
    • Make sure all the fluid levels in the car are sufficient. Lower fluid levels can cause noises due to the grinding of parts and transmission faults in the vehicle.
    • Maintain a proper record wherein you note down all the completed maintenance checks and the checks that need to be done in the future. 

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Caring for the car is knowing what can go wrong, and one is constantly on the lookout to be able to identify when something is wrong with the car. Here are some common issues and their troubleshooting steps to help you diagnose and potentially resolve simple problems before they require major repairs:Here are some common issues and their troubleshooting steps to help you diagnose and potentially resolve simple problems before they require major repairs:

Strange Noises:

    • Squealing under the hood: This could be getting weak belts or loose serpentine belts which not only affects the functionality of the engine but also the accessories it powers. The belt is also important, with regard both to its condition and tightness.
    • Grinding when braking: This sometimes indicates that your brake pads are worn and that you require new ones to be fitted .
    • Knocking from the engine: This could be as a result of having used the wrong kind of fuel or something as complex as a defective rod bearing.


    • Oil leaks: Look for areas of darkness beneath the vehicle. These are some of the parts that could be a source of the oil leak: oil pan, the valve cover gaskets, and the oil filter.
    • Coolant leaks: If the fluid is bright green or orange, it signifies that there is a coolant leak. Please look for any signs of cracks or leaks on the part of the car that contains the radiator, the hoses, and the water pump.

Electrical Issues:

    • Headlights or interior lights dimming or flickering: Check the battery voltage and diagnose the performance of the alternator as well to ensure it is sufficiently performing its duties.
    • Car won’t start: Check that the battery terminals are free of grime and corrosion and are tightly connected to the positive and negative poles of the battery. Perhaps, a jump start will do the trick, but if it seem the car hardly starts frequently, then the battery may need to be replaced.


    • If your car has some issues with the temperature, find out whether it has enough coolant and look at the state of the cooling system. Further driving should be prohibited until the matter is resolved so as not to complicate the situation and cause further damage to the engine.


    • Steering wheel shakes: Examine wheel alignment and make sure you check the balance of the tires as well. Even the tread of the tires can also be a cause for vibration issues and something as simple as tires with different levels of wear can bring this on.
    • Vibration at high speeds: The CV joints and axles should be checked for any signs of wear.

Maintenance Checks for Cars with A Four-Wheel-Drive System:

The Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) system of driving allows the powertrain of the car to supply torque to all four wheels simultaneously. This system is used in almost all modern cars in place of the older 2WD system because it helps improve the grip of the tires (traction) with the ground surface on unusual and dangerous driving conditions, such as rocky terrain, snow-clad roads, and slippery roads (during rainfall). The weight distribution and performance in 4WD cars are also better than the 2WD ones.

Most 4WD Systems are equipped with the “Service 4WD System” warning light that appears when the software of the car has encountered a major problem in the vehicle.

Some of the most common problems seen in 4WD cars include:

  •  Electrical Issues: Caused by defective sensors, loose wire connections, short circuits, and blown fuses in cars.
  •  Mechanical Failures: Occur due to mechanical damage or wearing of components in the car.
  • Software Glitches: Caused due to the presence of some bug or error in the automobile software. 

DIY Fixes & Preventive Measures for 4WD Users:

  • You can use On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) to troubleshoot and scan the problems of the car in detail.
  • You should visually inspect the interior and exterior of the car for evident signs of damage.
  • Always check the fuses, wires, and fluids in the car to ensure their proper working condition and get any of the faulty components replaced.
  • Follow a proper car maintenance schedule in order to prevent hassle due to problems in the vehicle later on.
  •  Avoid sudden accelerations and brakes that can put unwanted strain on the powertrain.

 Always consider the seasonal and roadway conditions before taking your car out for a drive.


Taking proper care of each and every component of your car is important in maximizing its life and performance. Neglecting the same can lead to expensive repairs and compromises in the safety of the riders. You can easily keep a check on your car’s health by following this thorough checklist of maintenance tips.
In short, this comprehensive and detailed guide to car maintenance proves to be helpful for both DIYers and people who prefer to hire a professional for all the technical work. The end goal is one and the same: keeping your car in its best possible shape throughout the year!

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