Introduction: How to Perform a Vehicle Maintenance Service

Many people automatically think anything that deals with their vehicle maintenance needs to be dealt with by a professional. These instructions will prove otherwise. Approximately every 3,000 to 5,000 miles a vehicle should be serviced. To some people this just means changing the oil, but what a vehicle really needs is an overall maintenance. Here are the general steps that should be taken for a vehicle maintenance service.

Basic Services Performed:
1. Oil Change (Steps 3-6)
2. Tire Rotation (Steps 7-9)
3. Tire Pressure (Step10)
4. Check Fluid Levels (Step 11)

Step 1: Purchase Oil and Filter

Photo courtesy of acdelco.com

Look in your vehicle's manual to determine what type of oil and how much to purchase. Purchase the oil at your local auto parts store. While there, you can also ask them what type of oil filter you need for your vehicle.

Step 2: Identify Tools and Materials

Locate all the tools and materials you'll need for the maintenance service and have them handy so you don't have to search for them while working. You'll need the following tools:

1. Car jack
2. Creeper
3. Basic wrench
4. Screw driver
5. Pressure gauge
6. Air nozzle
7. Filter wrench
8. Socket
9. Air impact wrench
10. Oil Filter
11. Oil
12. Rag
13. Oil pan (no pictured)
14. Funnel (optional)

Step 3: Warm Up and Jack Up Vehicle

Materials Needed for Step: Car Jack

Start vehicle until engine temperature gauge rises about a quarter of the way. This will allow the oil to drain faster and to get a thick goop out that is bad for the engine.

Find a spot on the frame of the vehicle preferably to jack up the vehicle high enough for you to fit under it while on the creeper.

Step 4: Drain Old Oil

Materials Needed for Step: Creeper, Wrench, Rags, Oil pan

Locate the oil plug. (Manual will describe its location)

Place pan under the plug to catch oil.

Remove oil plug with properly sized wrench.

Once oil has stopped draining, wipe surface clean and put oil plug back in.

Tighten oil plug securely.

Step 5: Change Oil Filter

Materials Needed for Step: Oil Filter Wrench, New Oil Filter, Rags, Oil Pan, Oil


Locate the oil filter which is usually close to the oil plug. (Manual will describe its location)

Unscrew old oil filter using filter wrench and rags.

Place old oil filter in oil pan with old drained oil.

Locate the o-ring on the new oil filter and lubricate it with some of the new oil.

Screw the new oil filter on hand-tight.

Step 6: Add New Oil

Materials Needed for Step:Oil and Funnel (optional)

Locate and remove the engine oil cap.

Pour in the predetermined amount of oil.

Replace engine oil cap.

Start and run vehicle for a few seconds to allow new oil to circulate through the engine.

Check to ensure oil level is correct via the dipstick.

The Oil Change portion of the service is now completed!

Step 7: Remove Tires

Materials Needed for Step: Car Jack, Air Impact Wrench, Socket

If vehicle is not still jacked up, jack up vehicle on one side enough so that both side tires are off the ground.

Use air impact wrench and socket to remove all lug nuts from both tires.

Lift off both tires and set aside.

Step 8: Check Breaks

Top Photo courtesy of off-roadweb.com

Materials Needed for Step: car jack

While the tires are off, look at break pad to make sure there is plenty of pad left.

Step 9: Rotate Tires and Put Back On

Materials Needed for Step: car jack, air impact wrench, socket

Rotate tires. Move front tire to back and back tire to front.

Place tires back on lugs.

Screw lug nuts back on.

Let vehicle off car jack.

Repeat steps 7 through 9 on opposite side.

Rotate tires and Check Break part of service are now completed.

Step 10: Check Tire Pressure

Materials Needed for Step: Tire pressure gauge, Air nozzle

Look on the tires to find the desired PSI the tires should be inflated to.

Use pressure gauge to check pressure in all four tires.

Use air nozzle to inflate if needed.

Step 11: Check Fluid Levels

Materials Needed for Step:none

This is a good time to check your anti-freeze and whipper blade fluid levels.

Both levels can be check under the hood and each should be indicated by text to picture on their caps.

Step 12: Update Records

Materials Needed for Step: paper (optional), pen (optional)

Some people just reset their mileage trip so they know when to perform their next maintenance service.

Another option is to record the service on paper. Things to include:
Current Mileage
Date
Services Performed


Comments

author
MrPapaya (author)2013-02-16

Where are the heavy-duty jack stands? Floor jacks are only for lifting the car until you can put proper jack stands under it. Hydraulic & scissor jacks can and do fail. I've seen it happen.

author
BRBarry (author)2013-02-15

I am always looking for a good checklist of pre/post trip inspection or general maintenance. But I must say this instructable could give some just enough info to be dangerous. What would be helpfull is a diagram of the proper tire rotation,(if needed). The things to be looking for when the tires are off, eg. brake pads and what to be looking for on them, the rotors, calipers, shocks and springs, etc. and things to be looking for to trouble shoot. Also when the tires are off you might as well put some grease in them nipples that will be easier to get at. ha ha...nipples. I find that the oil pan plug should stay off until the old filter is removed, that way if any spills out it will still drain and not dirty the new oil as much, as well as filling the new filter with clean oil prior to install. And not to mention, you might want to wear shoes, not sandals.

author
audreyobscura (author)2013-02-14

This is a good general post about vehicle maintenance! Thank you!

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