Take charge of your vehicle’s maintenance

You don’t need an ASE certification, a Snap-on mechanic’s toolset or a repair manual to ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. I’ve found that you need only three things, in addition to your trusted mechanic:

1. A copy of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. This can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, online or from your local dealership’s service department.

2. A method of recording services performed. I keep a simple list in a word processing document, with entries such as these:

Oil and filter change (every 7,000 miles): 130,000, next change due 137,000

Power steering fluid flush (every 30,000 miles): 110,000, next flush due 140,000

You can also record maintenance procedures in a spreadsheet program. As well, custom vehicle maintenance software is available. (That link is to an example and not necessarily a recommendation. Buyer beware and do your research.)

3. A desire to maintain your car’s value. Being able to provide a potential buyer with a detailed maintenance record can boost your car’s value (and be sure to keep hard copy receipts in a file folder or scanned to your computer’s hard drive to validate your maintenance record). At the very least such a record will make it easier and faster to sell your vehicle over a like vehicle with no maintenance history. It’s also good to share with your mechanic at appointment time.

And your diligence can pay off in another important way: Maintaining your vehicle can help prevent breakdowns that often result in expensive repairs. Automotive forums are filled with unfortunate stories of owners dealing with major repairs because they neglected their vehicle’s maintenance. Better to spend $200 on a transmission service every 60,000 miles than $3,000 or more on a new transmission because the fluid wasn’t changed frequently enough and no longer provided proper lubrication.

What suggestions do you have for taking charge of your vehicle’s maintenance? Leave a comment below.

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