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.

Sharing one of my passions

My passion for cars came naturally to me when I was 16 and a newly licensed driver. But I learned quickly that if you are struggling financially, taking your aging Toyota station wagon to a mechanic continually for repairs isn’t always feasible. Fortunately, our “car guy” next-door neighbor was willing to work on our car for little pay, show me how an engine works to propel a car down the road, and be patient enough to teach me how to properly maintain and repair it.

Around that time, my mother gifted me a book that I still display proudly on my bookshelf: “Reader’s Digest Complete Car Care Manual.” I spent many hours poring over it and learning all I could to supplement my hands-on training. It’s a resource I still use.

Many oil changes, tune-ups and repairs under my belt since then, I’ve discovered a new way to learn car maintenance and repair skills. There’s a YouTube community full of car aficionados who kindly take the time to share their expertise. In my own small way I’ve become one of them. Special thanks to my son for helping me film and edit many of my videos.

Here we’ll chat about car care in general and specific to my model, with the goal of teaching and motivating you. And I’ll interrupt that with whatever else might be on my mind. I invite you to spend a little time with me here, even if you have only a smidgen of desire to learn about car maintenance and repair. I hope you’ll take the time to share with me as well.