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The Ultimate Car Maintenance Checklist

To ensure your car keeps running without any big problems, you need to keep to a car maintenance checklist. Remember to always take your car to a trusted professional car service provider, and don’t try to fix it yourself, even if you think you have a knack for mechanics.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when you need to service your car, so always refer to the car owner’s manual.

We’ve broken down some of the top car maintenance tips you need to follow to optimise your car’s performance and value in the long run.

Your Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Regular maintenance is essential when it comes to your car. You only need to do some of these things every couple of years, where others require frequent attention.

Remember that it’s important to take your car to a trusted professional car service provider and to book your car service every year, or every 15,000 kilometres, whichever comes first and depending on your car manufacturer’s recommendation.

Keeping to these services will save you money in the long run and make your car more attractive to buyers if you ever decide to sell it. Furthermore, skipping your services could put you at greater risk of having an accident.

Always keep your car service booklet with a complete history of services and your car owner’s manual in a safe place.


The following things should be checked regularly.

1. Check Your Motor Oil and Coolant System Levels

You must check your oil and coolant levels because if incorrect, it could lead to engine problems. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of oil in your car’s boot. Look at your car owner’s manual for the grade and weight of oil your car uses.

An easy way to remember to check your oil and coolant is to do it every time you fill up at the petrol station.

2. Windshield Wiper Fluid

You have to check your wiper fluid because you don’t want to be stuck on the highway, unable to see through your dirty window and having no water to clean it.

3. Give Your Car a Good Clean

Cleaning your car is important to keep it in good condition. You should also try to polish it twice a year to help protect it against rust and other damage.

4. Petrol

It might seem obvious, but keeping an eye on your petrol usage is also vital to ensure you won’t be stranded next to the road. Many speedometers will show you how many kilometres you can drive with the remaining petrol to help you plan your route.

Every Couple of Months

Try to schedule reminders in your calendar to get the following things checked. Your car service provider will also inform you whether any of these items need to be replaced during your service.

1. Car Battery and Cables

Take a look under the hood to ensure your car battery and cables are secure and no corrosion is forming.

2. Car Belts

The serpentine belt and V-belt need to be tight and not show any wear and tear.

3. Automatic Transmission Fluid

A low automatic transmission fluid level will mean your car cannot generate as much hydraulic pressure, which could cause gear slippage and make your car feel like it’s moving at a slower speed.

4. Tyre Tread Depth and Pressure

It’s a good idea to check the pressure of your tyres every other time you fill up at the petrol station or before a long road trip. Your tyres will also lose tread the longer you drive with them. Therefore, you should inspect the tread every couple of months.

According to South African law, your tread grove is not allowed to be under 1mm across the surface at any point, or tread wear indicators level with the tread of the tyre at any point. Driving with low tread is dangerous as it can make it more difficult to control your vehicle, especially in wet weather.

5. Power Steering Liquid

Check your vehicle’s power steering liquid level when your car is warmed up. If you’re topping it up more often than usual, try to see if there are any leaks.

6. Your Exhaust

After a while, your car exhaust can show signs of damage, likely by making strange noises. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, get it checked out by a professional car service provider.

7. Hoses

Check if there are any cracks or leaks, indicating that you should replace them.

Every Six Months

Here’s what you need to check twice a year or when your owner manual says you should.

1. Tyre Rotation

Swap your front left tyre with the back left tyre and do the same on the right-hand side. The reason for this is that wear is then spread evenly across the tyres, extending their lifespan.

2. Engine Filter and Oil

Check your owner manual for details and replace your engine filter and oil accordingly.

3. Wiper Blades

Your windshield wipers are important for keeping you safe on the road, and you should check your wiper blades to ensure they will work well.

Replace them every six months or when your car service provider recommends them. But if you notice any wear and tear, you should immediately replace them.

4. Chassis Lubrication

You may need the occasional chassis lubrication, depending on your car. Check your car owner’s manual to see if it’s “lubed for life” or needs lubrication now and again.


Every Year

The following items need your attention every year.

1. Cabin Air Filter

This filter is inside your car, found under your dashboard, often behind the cubby-hole. It keeps your car ventilated, free of debris and safe to breathe.

2. Brakes

The brake pad, fluid, linings, etc., should be thoroughly checked annually. Not doing this is very dangerous.

3. Coolant System

You should replace your coolant or antifreeze every year. Check for leaks if you notice unexplained low levels.

4. Engine Air Filter

Your engine air filter should be clean, and if you’ve been driving with it for a year, you should consider replacing it.

Other Checks

The following checks are not time sensitive but will be needed at some point, especially if it malfunctions.

1. Spark Plugs

The spark plugs’ lifespan will differ depending on what car you drive.

2. Car Battery

Your car battery will generally work for at least three years but likely not more than six years. Get the battery life tested, starting when you’ve had it for three years.

3. Car Tyres

Your car’s tyres will generally last for around six to ten years, depending on your car and how often you drive it.


Get Car Insurance to Protect Your Car

One of the most important ways to look after your car is to get quality car insurance.  

Join our Prime Family today, and enjoy knowing that you’re backed by the best, even in the worst scenarios. Fill in this quick form, and we’ll send you a car insurance quote to get you covered in no time.


Remember that each car is different and that all checks depend on various factors, including but not limited to your car’s age, model, mileage, manufacturer recommendations, and more.

This article provides general information about just some of the car maintenance checks a South African should do. However, it is not a complete list and excludes some of the checks generally performed by a car service provider.

It’s very important to take your car for its service and get an approved car service provider with quality parts to take care of it. Never try fixing your car yourself, as this could lead to costly and dangerous mistakes.

Furthermore, buying car insurance should be done with much thought and only from a certified financial services provider.

Contact us today to learn more about getting affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess*. *T&Cs apply.

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