Maintenance for Your Vehicle Every Three Months or 3,000 Miles
It’s about time for some routine check ups with your vehicle. We have compiled a list of nine things to check through every three months or 3,000 miles to make sure your car runs smooth and you have a safe ride. Your 3 month interval is otherwise known as the “oil change” interval, as most folks every 3 months are changing their engine oil. While accomplishing that, look out for these other items.
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Three Months or 3,000 Mile Maintenance Checklist
1. Engine Oil and Filter
The industry standard for oil changes has been 3 months / 3000 miles for some time, but many folks using synthetic oil can push this a little farther into the 5000-7000 mile range. For the sake of this article, the 3 month maintenance checklist starts with an oil and filter change. While you have the hood up, there are several other quick touch-points to check.
While under-car, inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay. A normal exhaust can last anywhere between two to three years, but it is best to stay on top of regular checks to avoid expensive problems.
3. Battery and Cables
Battery should be securely mounted. Battery connection should be clean, tight and corrosion free. If you notice corrosion on your battery, consider brushing the corrosion off with a wire brush after the battery has been disconnected. Read here how you can tackle corrosion on your battery. Never operate on a battery while it is connected. If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary.
4. Engine Air Filter
Inspect filter at each oil change. Replace annually or when leaking, torn, water or oil soaked, dirty or showing other signs of wear. Other signs of wear include unusual engine sounds, service engine light, and reduced horsepower. To learn how to replace your air filter, check out this how to guide to get the job done right.
5. Automatic Transmission Fluid
Check fluid level with engine running and transmission in park. Automatic transmission fluid provides the hydraulic fluid used by automatic transmissions to function. By checking and maintaining this fluid, the transmission will stay lubricated and cool. If low, add the type of automatic transmission fluid specified in the owner’s manual and/or on dipstick. For maximum performance, change every two years or 24,000 miles, or as directed in owner’s manual.
Check V-belts and serpentine belts for looseness and condition. Replace when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Replace timing belt per interval specified in owner’s manual. Typically this is 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage.
Inspect hoses at each oil change and replace when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen or restricted. Look for signs of leaking and dried coolant that has a white, or colored crystalline look to it. This color will depend on the type of antifreeze and color you use.
Car Care Council’s Service Interval Schedule*
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*The Car Care Council has developed a service interval schedule to provide general guidelines for the regular maintenance of passenger cars, mini vans, pickups and SUVs. Intervals are built around an oil change every 3,000 miles, an accepted recommendation for the majority of motorists who are severe service drivers. Always consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations by the car maker.