For many of us, our vehicles are essential to making it through each day. Building a regular car maintenance schedule with your dealership can help to detect and prevent vehicle issues that could be dangerous, and expensive to repair, later down the road.

To get started, use our recommended maintenance schedule below as a guide. Always be sure to work with your dealership to care for the needs of your specific vehicle!

Check regularly or every month:

Make it a habit to check for indicator lights on your dashboard every time you drive your vehicle and schedule time with your dealership at the first sign of an issue. The exterior headlights, taillights, and blinkers should be monitored every time you’re in dim conditions. Tires should be checked monthly for proper inflation and tread wear. Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well!

Check every three months or 3,000 miles:

Have your basic fluid levels checked, including windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, and automatic transmission fluid. It’s a good time to pop the hood and take a look at your battery and your belts and hoses. If there is any visible deterioration, make an appointment with your dealership for an inspection. Car batteries only need to be replaced every three to five years, and belts and hoses can last even longer. Keep in mind, during cold and snowy months these typically long-lasting pieces will deteriorate quicker.

Check every six months or 6,000 miles:

Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 7,000 miles – it’s best to have your dealership rotate them at the end of winter and again at the end of summer. Tire alignment should be checked each time your tires are serviced, or at the very least annually. And while you’re in the dealership, have your chassis lubrication checked. Wiper blades should be inspected regularly, and typically need to be replaced every six months.

Check every year or 12,000 miles:

Brakes should be inspected annually. Keep in mind that your brakes work harder in snowy or slippery conditions. It’s a good idea to schedule a brake appointment with your dealership at the start of spring, even if your brakes were in top shape at the start of winter. Without regular inspections, it’s very easy to become accustomed to the feeling of compromised brakes – be sure to have them checked by your service technician!

If you schedule a brake inspection during the spring, have your coolant system tested as well to prevent your vehicle from overheating when summer temperatures rise. Steering, suspension, and all of your air filters should also be inspected annually.

The service needs of each vehicle will vary based on the make and model, year, mileage, and your driving conditions. Your owner’s manual should include a recommended service schedule for reference. To build a more customized schedule, your local dealership is the best resource. There are also free online tools to build a customized maintenance schedule, such as on Edmunds.com, or your automaker’s owner website.

Do you already follow an auto care schedule? What are your best tips for staying on top of your vehicle’s maintenance needs? Share below!