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The Annual Car Maintenance Checklist

Date: Wed 10th January 2018   |   Author: L Blake

Your basic car maintenance checklist for every 5,000 - 10,000 miles

Keeping a regular car maintenance schedule is important to ensure the longevity of your vehicle. In a previous blog we looked at the car maintenance checks that you should carry out every month and 3000 miles. In this blog we look at the more detailed car maintenance checks that most vehicles will require every 5,000 miles, 10,000 miles and every year.

In order to ensure that your car is getting the maintenance it requires, you should also check for specific maintenance on your particular model of vehicle. You will usually find a detailed maintenance schedule in your car owner’s manual.

5,000 miles - Car maintenance checklist

Check the power steering fluid level

To check the power steering fluid level, firstly you’ll need to locate the power steering reservoir. It is usually located on or near the engine and has a white or yellow reservoir with a coloured cap (colours vary between manufacturers – if you’re unsure, consult your user manual). Next, you’ll need to wipe the reservoir clean to ensure dirt doesn’t contaminate the power steering fluid if you need to open it. Now you’ll be able check the fluid level in the reservoir – there’ll normally be maximum and minimum level markers on the reservoir.

An indication that the power steering fluid level is low is through a whining or squealing noise when the wheels turn. If you’re running low on powering steering fluid, consult your garage as it may be an indication of a more serious problem.

10,000 Mile or Annual Car Maintenance

Inspect the belts

It is crucial to check the seat belts as part of your car checklist. It’s easy to forget but seat belts play a vital role in saving lives in crashes. It is important to make sure all belts are in working order as they were designed, ensuring that they click in place and restrict sudden forward movement.

Inspect the brakes

Next in your car maintenance checklist is the brakes. To properly perform a brake check you will need to take the wheel off and inspect the thickness of the brake pads, which should be at least 3mm. If you aren’t confident taking the wheel off, then you should take your car to a garage. There are a few basic signs to look out for though, including:

  • Warning lights - if the ABS light is illuminated you should get this checked.
  • A need to press down hard to slow down - if your brakes feel spongy or soft take them in for inspection.
  • Squeaking or grinding noises can be a tell-tale sign they need replacing.

Red car driving into sunset, maintenance checklist

Check the brake fluid level

To check your car’s brake level fluid, you’ll need to locate the brake fluid reservoir. The brake fluid reservoir is located on the driver’s side of the vehicle. To find out exactly where your brake fluid reservoir is located, you can check inside your owner’s manual. 

1. Clean around the brake fluid reservoir

Firstly you should carefully clean the area around the top of the brake fluid reservoir. Cleaning this area is very important as even a small bit of dirt falling into the reservoir can result in the brake master cylinder failing. Your brakes will slowly lose effectiveness and then ultimately fail completely. If you can’t locate the brake fluid reservoir, consult your owner’s manual.

2. Open the brake fluid reservoir.

Your vehicle may either a have a plastic reservoir or a metal master cylinder that has the reservoir inside. To open a plastic brake fluid reservoir, simply just unscrew the cap.

3. Look to see where the level of fluid lies

The brake fluid level should be within half an inch of the cap. If the reservoir is empty, your vehicle should be recovered to a local garage as there’s clearly a leak and you’ll have no brakes due to lack of fluid in the system.

We hope you found this blog post useful in undertaking car maintenance tasks at home. If you missed the first part of the guide explaining monthly and 3,000-mile checks, you can read it by clicking here.



Inspect the hoses and clamps

If hoses and clamps aren’t inspected, failures may result in an overheated engine, loss of power steering, and/or loss of the electrical charging system. Therefore it is crucial you don’t forget to inspect the hoses and clamps as part of your car maintenance. 

Clean the battery connections

Next in your car checklist is cleaning the battery connections. Car batteries regularly get a corrosion build-up on the connections caused by hydrogen gas released from the battery acid mixing with the atmosphere. It looks like a white powder build-up over the terminals.

To clean the car battery connections, first and foremost make sure you wear eye protection. Then disconnect the battery cables from the terminals. Mix 15 ml (one tablespoon) of baking soda with 250ml of very hot water. Next, dip an old toothbrush into the mixture and scrub any corrosion buildup on your battery. If you notice any corrosion on the battery ends, remove this by dipping the cables into hot water to dissolve any buildup. Ensure the connection is dry before you reconnect and attempt to start your vehicle.