The Incredibly Simple Car-maintenance Checklist

Just remember the acronym LIFT BOW to make vehicle upkeep easier.

By Kathy Sena with Jim Twitchell

A little preventive care can save you time and money when it comes to your vehicle. But it can be tough to recall everything you need to check. Your owner’s manual—and this tool—can help you set up a car-maintenance schedule. But if you’re out on the driveway with a few minutes to spend on your vehicle, Ford master technician Jim Twitchell recommends that you keep LIFT BOW in mind.


Lights—Make sure headlamps, running lights and brake lights are working and clean. When a light goes out, replace it ASAP, to stay safer and avoid receiving a ticket for operating a vehicle with a missing light.

InteriorClean and vacuum your vehicle’s interior regularly. Wipe up spills, using upholstery cleaner if necessary. This will increase the car’s value to a prospective buyer if you decide to sell it.

Fluids—In addition to oil, your vehicle relies on coolant, power-steering, transmission, windshield-washer and brake fluids. Your owner’s manual explains how to check each of them.

Tires—Buy an inexpensive tire gauge and check your tire pressure when tires are cold. (The pressure can increase with heat generated by driving, so checking tires after they’ve been sitting for more than an hour will yield the most accurate results.) Tires should be replaced when you see wear bars showing between the treads. Your service advisor can show you what to look for.

Brakes—Pay attention to what’s normal for your vehicle. Have your brakes inspected immediately if it feels different when you press the pedal, if they make any unusual noises or if you sense a difference in stopping ability.

Oil—Your owner’s manual explains how to easily check your oil using the dipstick and a clean cloth. Or read How to Add Motor Oil.

Windows—Clean your mirrors and windows regularly and check for any pits or small cracks (from a stone kicked up by a truck, for example). Pits or scratches should be assessed to determine if they can be repaired or if the windshield should be replaced.

Of course, if you don’t get around to checking these things yourself, The WorksTM Vehicle Checkup Package will help to ensure that your car is in top shape—without the hassle.


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