The first few months or even years after getting your car, maintenance may not have to be top of mind, but to ensure your car stays in the best shape it can be requires awareness and check-ups. Below we’ve included information on a few of the car care basics to keep in mind.

Air Filter

Annual Air Filter Change

For all maintenance and repairs, first refer to your owner’s manual for the best estimates. In terms of your air filters, the general rule of thumb is to change your cabin air filter between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or every year, according to Angie Hicks’ article from Angie’s List. The same goes for your engine air filter.  The cabin air filter exists to block smog, dust, pollution and other irritants from entering your car and the engine air filter makes sure all of those don’t enter and damage your engine. Changing both in a timely manner ensures you can have healthy, clean air inside your car and keep your engine running smoothly. For the exact type of filter, you’ll need for your cabin air filter and engine filter, be sure to consult your owner’s manual. 

Check up on Those Windshield Wipers

The timing for when to change your windshield wipers really depends on whether or not you can see when you use them. It is absolutely, without a doubt a road hazard if your windshield wipers aren’t doing their job in rainy or snowy conditions, so for your own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, make sure to inspect your windshield wipers regularly. Check out the Allstate Blog Team’s post on how to inspect and replace your wipers. 

Spark Plugs

Replace Your Spark Plugs

This maintenance task requires a bit more tools and calls for a time investment, and if you’re not confident about your work, please bring your car to a professional instead. Safety is always first! Replacing your spark plugs in a timely manner can keep up a good gas mileage and ensure the health of your engine. This blog post on Family Handyman goes into further detail on the importance and functions of spark plugs, along with a step-by-step instruction on how to replace the plugs. Tools needed include a gap gauge, needle-nose pliers, rags, socket/ratchet set, spark plug wire puller, swivel socket, and a torque wrench. As for materials, you’ll want to have anti-seize compound on hand along with your replacement spark plugs. The biggest thing to remember is that there’s a certain order you have to replace the spark plugs and they must be done one-by-one.

Don’t Forget Your Oil Change

This is a well-known part of car maintenance. Some cars even have helpful signals to remind the driver when it’s time for an oil change. Most owner’s manuals recommend 5,000 to 7,500 miles per oil change. Another common guideline is to change your oil every three months, though all these guidelines also depend on how often you drive your car and under what conditions. 

For example, those who primarily take short-distance drives would be better changing their oil more often because that type of start-stop driving is harmful for the engine, and frequent oil changes can decrease the damage. Cherise Threewitt from HowStuffWorks goes more in depth into four recommended intervals for oil changes and the reasoning behind these intervals in this article. For five more reasons on why it’s important to change the oil of your car regularly, check out this blog post on Meineke. 

Check Your Brake Pads

Just as it’s important to check your spark plugs so you can start your car, it’s just as important to make sure your brake pads are up to their job. Most cars have sensors that let you know when it’s time to change brake pads, but there are other signs, including a large screeching noise. Kevin Hughes’ article on RAC includes a list of warning signs, as well as a full explanation to what brake pads are and what they do, and how to replace your own brake pads. 


For more car maintenance tips, read up on Cochin Automotive’s “10 Basic Car Maintenance Tips for Beginners”. Reader’s Digest offers a long list of 74 tips in this article by the Reader’s Digest Editors. Ensuring you know what to check when is the best way to save time and money, and hopefully these few tips have provided a good starting point.