The Must-Know Types of Regular Maintenance Every Car Needs

Cars are part of most people’s everyday routines. We use them to drive to work, visit our loved ones and ultimately they get us from Point A to Point B time and time again.

In order to ensure these vehicles are doing their jobs safely, proper maintenance is a must.

Whether you’ve thought of it with this perspective before or not, a car is kind of like a person. We need regular check-ups from our doctor to ensure we’re functioning healthily. As a car owner, it’s important to understand all the pros, cons, advantages and costs that go hand-in-hand with having a vehicle.

For some, caring for a car might seem like it entails the basics–perhaps car repair insurance, a car maintenance visit when a dashboard light comes on, and, of course, gasoline. It is, ultimately, a lot more complicated than that. What many owners might not immediately consider is the regular, routine maintenance that’s a must to ensure their vehicle functions properly, avoids unnecessary damages and serves them well.

If you’re unsure of the type of car mechanic check-ups you should be doing on your car, this blog can help.

We’re sharing the most common and routine maintenance tasks every car out there needs–and how often they need them.


-Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your car functioning properly and avoiding unnecessary damage.

-Following a routine maintenance schedule is crucial, including tasks like tire pressure checks, headlight and taillight inspections, wiper blade replacements and fluid monitoring.

-Some maintenance tasks require immediate attention, such as engine oil checks, addressing check engine lights and fixing tire pressure alerts.

-Consider seasonal maintenance depending on your location and weather conditions.

-Routine maintenance tasks should be performed regularly, such as checking and replacing fluids, inspecting battery mounts and cables and examining belts and hoses.

-Preemptive measures like learning to tackle smaller tasks yourself and considering car repair insurance can help alleviate potential financial burdens associated with car maintenance.

-Exploring discount car maintenance plans from reputable companies can also help manage the costs of routine maintenance effectively.

Regular Maintenance Every Car Needs: What Drivers Should Know

Cars are complicated and multi-faceted pieces of machinery that have more parts than we’d care to name here. Maintaining all those parts is a critical for ensuring you’ve got a properly functioning vehicle.

So, before we explore the kind of maintenance most cars (if not all) need, it’s important to think about when and how often maintenance for your car should occur–especially when nothing seems wrong with your vehicle.

So, outside of the flashing, angry lights that may show up on your dash alerting you to a problem, how can you know when it’s time to get your vehicle checked out for routine maintenance?

We’ll share our tips below.

Top Considerations for Car Maintenance

Time & Frequency

If you’re unsure of when and how often you should bring your car in for routine maintenance, you can always get a hint from your odometer. Many car manufacturers our there suggest that vehicles follow the 30-60-90 rule for car inspections.

Though guidance varies, most dealers and manufacturers will tell car owners that general inspection and major maintenance should happen every 30,000 miles you add to your car.

That said, regular check-ups and maintenance should happen before that. In fact, some smaller routine maintenance tasks should take place as often as once per month, every three months, or every 3,000 miles.

Above all, though, you’ll want to ensure you bring your car to a qualified mechanic for a detailed inspection relatively often. According to Kelley Blue Book, it’s important to have your car checked out at least once a year, no matter how many miles you’re driving it.

Immediate vs. Routine

Some maintenance is more pressing than others, of course.

For example, most car experts would recommend checking your engine oil once a month, even if there are no alerts from your vehicle. While you might not need to top off that frequently, having some on hand might help. Still, that’s not something you usually need to take care of as soon as possible–there’s a little flexibility within a certain time frame to take care of this task.

On the other hand, though, a check engine light on your dash could (and likely will) require immediate attention from a qualified mechanic. A tire pressure alert also requires immediate attention, as you’ll want to avoid a flat tire while driving.

That sort of pressing maintenance–or maintenance tasks you aren’t able to tackle on your own–are types that require immediate and expert attention.

Seasonal Maintenance

Many car owners will have to consider seasonal-based maintenance, too. This will depend on where you live and the kind of weather you deal with. Somewhere with a mild, relatively stable year-round climate (like Florida, for example) won’t require as substantial winter seasonal maintenance as a car in some place like Colorado or Montana.

Those areas deal with salt, snow, ice and tougher road conditions in the winter. Pre and post-season maintenance will need to be considered depending on the seasonality of where you live.

Routine Maintenance Every Car Owner Should Know About

Tire Pressure Checks & Tread Conditions

When it comes to tires, car owners should always pay attention to the condition, wear and tear, and pressure. Routine maintenance for this part of your car is a spectrum.

For example, every three months or 3,000 miles you should check the tire pressure and do a quick check of your tread patterns. Look for damage to the treads and sidewalls, monitor changes to your tires’ pressure and replace any issues.

This is also the time to do–or have a mechanic do–a detailed examination of your tread. Many people's rule of thumb is that a tire is officially “worn out” if its tread is 2/32” or less. However, if you drive in wet, snowy, or challenging conditions, it’s likely better to abide by the 4/32” rule.

About every 5,000 miles, it’s time to rotate your tires. While this is likely a skill you can learn, it’s often best to check with a qualified mechanic or tire specialist to understand which rotation method is best for your vehicle and why. Some factors to consider are your vehicle’s drive train, use and the type and size of your current tires.

Head & Tail Lights

Driving around with a broken head or tail light isn’t just dangerous; it’s also illegal. Do a routine check of your head and tail lights every few weeks. If a fuse blows or a light goes out, you’ll need to replace or repair it immediately. Don’t wait for that 3,000-mile mark (or a ticket) to alert you to a busted light.

Replacing Wiper Blades

Wiper blades need to be replaced relatively often. Though most manufacturers mention that routine maintenance and replacement should happen every 9-12 months, they can be damaged at any time. Routine maintenance involves testing them out and monitoring their wear and tear before you’re in unideal driving or traveling conditions.

When your blades become ineffective or inefficient, replace them or fix them immediately. Driving with less-than-ideal wiper blades can be dangerous!

Monitoring & Replacing Fluids

Your vehicle cleverly uses a variety of fluids and oils to make everything work properly. Monitoring and maintaining these fluids is key to ensuring your vehicle works as it should. Here’s what you need to know about some of the fluids and oils inside your car.

Power Steering Fluid: It’s important to check the levels or have the levels checked every three months or every 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Make sure your levels are checked with the car warmed up for a proper reading. If you find that you’re topping off your power steering fluid more often than this, you’ll want to bring your vehicle in for maintenance to check for leaks, cracks or other issues.

Automatic Transmission Fluid: Park your car and leave the engine running every three months or 3,000 miles to check the levels of your automatic transmission fluid. If it’s low, add the appropriate type or have a qualified mechanic take care of this maintenance task for you. Every year to two years, you’ll want to have a mechanic check and completely replace your automatic transmission fluid for optimal performance.

Brake Fluid: Every year, you’ll want to have your mechanic check out the entirety of your brake system, including your brake linings, brake pads, brake rotors and brake fluid. Every two years, it’s important to have your mechanic replace your brake fluid entirely.

Engine Oil: Your engine oil is one of those facets of your vehicle you truly can’t check too often. In fact, every time you get gas, take a peek at your engine oil levels. That said, checking the level once per month should be sufficient. Every 5,000 miles or so, though, you’ll want to check your engine oil and your engine oil filter to make sure it’s functioning properly. A qualified mechanic can help you ensure everything is running smoothly.

Coolant / AntiFreeze: Every month, take a look at your coolant or antifreeze levels. Read instructions for adding these liquids very carefully, or have a professional tackle this maintenance task for you. Your coolant and antifreeze will likely need yearly maintenance and replenishment. That being said, if you see leaking or spilling coolant or antifreeze, you’ll want to have a qualified mechanic take a peek at your vehicle to check for damage or cracks.

Windshield Wiper Fluid: Take a look at your wiper fluid levels every month and top off this fluid as needed. Though this shouldn’t need much extra maintenance as the other elements of your vehicle, it’s important to maintain this fluid regularly.

Battery Mounts & Cable Checks

Car battery issues can happen at any time, unfortunately. Every three months or 3,000 miles, try to take a look at your car battery to check for things like corrosion to ensure cables are mounted correctly and everything is fastened appropriately.

Usually, you’ll want to start testing your battery regularly after three years. It’s possible you’ll have to replace or fix your battery every six years. Battery issues are considered one of the top 10 car repair problems most car owners will experience.

Air Filter Maintenance

Take a look at your engine air filter every 3,000 miles or three months. A dirty, debris-filled filter means you’re due for a new one. If you go a full year without needing to replace it, get a new one at the 12-month mark–even if it doesn’t seem dirty.

Belts & Hoses

Your serpentine belts and V-belts should be checked every three months or every 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Ensure they’re tight, functioning, and in good condition. If you spot a frayed belt or a worn belt, replace it before it becomes an issue.

Brake Examination

Your brakes demand a yearly check, even if you don’t have any issues or complaints about them. Work with a qualified mechanic or expert to check out all elements of your brake system, including your fluid, linings, pads and rotors.

Cabin Air Filter

This might sound similar to the engine air filter, but it’s an entirely different part of your vehicle. Take a yearly look at your cabin air filter and change it out, even if it appears clean.

Combat for Unexpected Car Costs: How to Ease Potential Financial Burdens

By now, it’s probably clear that maintaining a car has the potential to be quite costly! To avoid some of those expenses–especially large, unexpected ones–you can take certain steps to try to bypass those big and unwelcome car mechanic bills.

First and Foremost: Regular Maintenance

It might sound like an obvious segue based on this entire article of advice, but one of the best ways to avoid costly and sudden repairs to your vehicle is to stick to a routine maintenance schedule. If you tackle maintenance before issues arise, you can usually keep larger and more expensive maintenance issues at bay.

For example, regularly rotating your tires can help you avoid wearing down one tire that eventually becomes flat. Routinely monitoring and changing your oil can help the longevity of your engine’s health.

That being said, it’s important to remember that even if you take care of your vehicle and ensure proper maintenance at all times, accidents and errors do happen. Sometimes, your car will need maintenance and repairs even if you do everything right.

Tackle Some of the Smaller Tasks Yourself

One of the best ways to avoid the higher prices of routine maintenance can be to learn how to check, fix and repair small maintenance tasks yourself.

For example, learning how to change your oil or wiper fluid, adding new antifreeze or coolant to your engine, or even rotating your own tires could cut down on the cost of some car maintenance.

Of course, any car maintenance task that could compromise your safety or the safety of others should be left to professional mechanics.

Consider Preemptive Car Repair Insurance Measures

Car repair and car mechanic insurance are options for car owners. Depending on your plan, your partner, and your priorities, it’s possible that some, if not all, routine maintenance could be covered.

Find Alternatives to Car Repair Insurance to Prepare for this Anticipated Maintenance – And the Unexpected

Unlike traditional car repair insurance options, there are a variety of financial planning options for managing car maintenance needs.

Car maintenance doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Choosing auto discount savings plans, like Carefree Auto, that offer car maintenance discounts and other valuable benefits for car owners, can help you manage the needs and costs of your vehicle.

Already have insurance but need more assistance? Discount auto savings plans like those at Carefree Auto could help fill the gaps you might miss with traditional car mechanic insurance.

The Carefree Auto blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed mechanic or auto professional before seeking services.

The Carefree Auto Card is not insurance and Carefree Auto is not an insurance provider.