A PROJECT OF THE County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency

Car Maintenance

Owning a car means taking care of it so it will last a long time. Here are some of the most important maintenance tips for car owners:

  • Change the oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Check the car's oil level every week
  • Check the belts by pushing on the middle of the belt between the two parts it connects; push on the belt as hard as you would to push a thumb tack into a board. If you can move the belt more than half an inch, the belt is too loose. Have a mechanic tighten it or have someone show you how.
  • Check the belts for cracks, especially on the underside.
  • Check the hoses by squeezing each one; hoses should be still not soft; make sure the clamps holding the hoses are tight. * Change the air filter as needed (usually when oil is changed).
  • Check the radiator; radiator fluid should be changed once a year.
  • Check the tire pressure (read your owner's manual to determine how much pressure to put on the tires).
  • Tires need to be changed when they get too smooth. Use the PENNY TEST to check how worn your tires are: Insert a penny into the groove of the tire with Abe Lincoln's head pointing down. If the tread doesn't come up to the top of Lincoln's head, the tire is too worn and should be replaced.
  • Clean the battery. Remove the corrosive powder which sometimes forms on a battery's posts and cables. Use an old toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush in baking soda & water (tsp. Baking soda with a pint of water). Scrub the powder away from the battery then wipe off with a rag. Be careful not too touch the powdery stuff on the battery with bare hands.