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The Ultimate 2024 Car Maintenance Checklist

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  May 22, 2024

Owning a car is a big investment, and taking good care of it is crucial to ensure its longevity, performance, and safety. Whether you’re driving a brand-new vehicle or a trusted family heirloom, sticking to a regular maintenance routine is the key to keeping it in great and preserving its value.

Check out our 2024 car maintenance checklist below.


Why Is Car Maintenance Important?

Regular check-ups and timely repairs help catch and solve problems before they escalate into dangerous situations. Additionally, maintenance can prolong your car’s lifespan, saving you from costly breakdowns and unexpected expenses down the line.

When you’re ready to sell or trade-in your vehicle, having detailed service records can boost its resale value. Potential buyers will be more confident in a well-maintained car, knowing it’s been looked after and is less likely to need immediate repairs.


Car Maintenance Checklist


Short-Term Check-Ups (3-6 Months)


Oil and Fluid Levels

Regularly check and top off your engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and other fluids.

Tire Pressure and Tread Depth

Make sure your tires are inflated and have sufficient tread depth (at least 4/32 of an inch) for safe driving.

Lights and Wipers

Inspect all exterior lights, including headlights, tail lights, and turn signals, as well as your windshield wipers.

Battery and Cables

Check the battery connections and look for signs of corrosion or leakage. 

Belts and Hoses

Visually inspect the serpentine belt and other hoses for cracks, fraying, or excessive wear.


Long-Term Check-Ups (12-24 Months)



Have your brake pads, rotors, and fluid checked and replaced as needed.

Timing Belt or Chain

Replace the timing belt or chain according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, typically between 60,000 and 100,000 miles.

Spark Plugs

Replace your spark plugs every 30,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on your vehicle.

Transmission Fluid

Change the transmission fluid and filter every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, as specified by the manufacturer. 

Coolant Flush

Flush the cooling system and replace the coolant every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

Differential and Transfer Case Fluid

Have a professional check and replace the fluid in these components as recommended.


Seasonal Check-Ups



Check the air conditioning system, replace the cabin air filter, and inspect the cooling system for any leaks or issues.


Inspect the heating system, replace the engine air filter, and ensure your battery is in good condition for the colder months.

Remember, this checklist is a general guideline, and your car’s specific needs may vary.


Signs Your Vehicle Needs Maintenance

Even the most well-kept cars can experience problems. Some common red flags include:

  • Braking issues: Soft or spongy brake pedal, squeaking or grinding noises, or pulling to one side when braking. 
  • Lack of acceleration: Changes in your car’s performance may signal the need for an engine tune-up. 
  • Vibrations: Shaking or trembling during starting, turning, or stopping could point to a problem with the suspension or other parts. 
  • Difficulty starting or stalling: If your vehicle is struggling to start or stalling unexpectedly, it’s time to have a mechanic take a look. 
  • Decreased fuel efficiency: Faulty sensors or leaky fuel injectors can cause changes in your gas mileage. 
  • Rough shifting: Automatic transmissions should shift gears smoothly; lurching or hard shifts may indicate a transmission issue.

Car Maintenance FAQs


What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

The check engine light, or “service engine soon” indicator, is your vehicle’s way of telling you there’s a problem with one or more of its systems. The car’s onboard diagnostic system triggers this warning light when it detects an issue, such as a faulty sensor, emission control problem, or engine malfunction.


How Long Can You Drive With the Check Engine Light On?

Driving for extended periods with the check engine light on isn’t advised. Even if the problem isn’t urgent, ignoring the warning can cause more damage and pricier fixes later on. When the light comes on, get your car checked by a qualified mechanic to find and fix the underlying issue.


What’s the Difference About Electric Car Maintenance?

Maintaining an electric vehicle (EV) is quite different from a traditional gas-powered car. For example, EVs don’t need oil changes, transmission service, or spark plug replacements because they don’t have internal combustion engines. However, you’ll still need to regularly check the tires, brakes, and cabin air filters to ensure your EV runs its best.

Always adhere to the maintenance schedule outlined by the manufacturer for your specific electric model.


Think You Have a Lemon On Your Hands?

If you’re facing ongoing issues with your car, even after following the recommended maintenance, you might have a “lemon” — a vehicle with a significant, unfixable defect. Under California’s lemon laws, keeping detailed records of all repairs, replacements, and services your car has had is crucial.

By carefully documenting everything, you provide your lemon law attorney with the evidence needed to build a strong case against the manufacturer; this documentation can help you secure a refund or replacement vehicle.

Suspect you have a lemon? Call 818-244-3905 or contact Norman Taylor & Associates today for a FREE consultation. We’ll review your case and work hard to ensure you get the outcome you deserve.

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