Keeping your vehicle well maintained is one of the most important things you can do as a car owner. A poorly maintained vehicle can put you and other motorists at a far greater risk, which is why it is essential that you always take the time to ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. In addition, regularly performing all of the necessary maintenance tasks will also help to protect your vehicle’s value from depreciating too much, which will obviously be important should you ever decide to sell. The problem is that many teen drivers and other first-time vehicle owners may not be aware of all of the various tasks that a good vehicle maintenance routine should include. For this reason, we’ve put together this handy checklist that should tell you everything you need to know about vehicle basics for first time drivers.

A Brief Introduction to Vehicle Maintenance: Getting to Know Your Owner’s Manual

Getting behind the wheel of your first car can be a scary experience as there is a huge amount of information that first time drivers must process. Not only does this include the various rules of the road, but also information about your vehicle, how it works and what you need to do to keep it in optimal condition. Luckily, your vehicle’s owner’s manual puts all of this information directly in the palm of your hand.

Of course, it probably isn’t necessary that you read the whole manual cover to cover. Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to at least peruse through the manual to learn about your vehicle’s various features and how they work. As well, the owner’s manual will also tell you everything you need to know about maintaining your vehicle. In this sense, the most important thing is that you pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedules and perform all of the tasks at the recommended intervals. Most of these tasks—such as oil changes, transmission flushes and brake checks—should obviously be left to a trained professional, but there are still numerous smaller tasks that you can and will need to do on your own.

Maintaining Your Fluid Levels

In addition to fuel, your vehicle also requires numerous other fluids to keep running properly—from oil and engine coolant to transmission and brake fluid. Should any of these fluids become too dirty or run low, it could lead to serious damage to your vehicle or put you at a greater risk of an accident. Therefore, it is essential that you regularly check all of your vehicle’s fluids. This includes not only your oil, engine coolant and transmission fluid, but also brake fluid, power steering fluid and even your windshield washer fluid. It’s also a good idea to have your vehicle regularly serviced and maintained by a professional mechanic. Finally, you’ll also want to be on the lookout for possible leaks, and call a mechanic immediately if you do suspect a leak since this could cause the fluid to run dangerously low.

Checking Your Tires and Tire Pressure

The fact that your tires are the only part of the vehicle that actually comes into contact with the road means that they are obviously one of the most important components. Therefore, it is essential that you regularly inspect the tires and tread for any signs of damage that could increase the chances of a flat or a blowout. It is also essential that your tires have enough tread left and that the tread is wearing evenly as driving on bald or uneven tires greatly decreases the amount of control you have. The same goes for driving on underinflated or overinflated tires, which means you’ll also want to regularly check your tire pressure to always ensure that each tire is inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. This last item is especially important when the weather changes as major increases or drops in temperature can directly affect your tire pressure.

Maintaining Your Windshield, Wipers and Wiper Fluid

Driving with a chipped, cracked or even dirty windshield has the potential to create numerous problems. First and foremost, these factors can decrease your visibility, which thus makes it harder to see and increases your chances of getting into an accident. Moreover, a chipped or cracked windshield is also more likely to break and potentially shatter, which increases your chances of a serious injury in case of an accident. These reasons mean it is essential that you take all the necessary precautions to keep your windshield in good condition and also ensure that you can always see out of it. This means not only getting any chips or cracks repaired, but also regularly changing your windshield wipers at least every six months and always making sure your windshield washer reservoir is filled up.

Don’t Forget about the Interior and Exterior

Although keeping your vehicle safe and running properly is obviously the most important part of vehicle maintenance, it’s also a good idea to spend a bit of time focusing on maintaining your vehicle’s looks in order to better preserve its value. This means regularly washing your car to remove any dirt, grime and potentially corrosive materials and then applying a wax to help protect the paint job. You’ll also want to regularly wash and clean the vehicles interior, including the seats, dashboard and upholstery. Another good tip is to try to minimize the amount of direct sunlight that your vehicle’s interior receives as this will help to prevent fading and other damaging effects from the sun’s UV rays.

As you can see, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand these maintenance tips for first time drivers. In fact, one of the biggest tips we can give you when it comes to maintaining your vehicle is to just use good common sense. Simply paying attention and being on the lookout for any changes in how your vehicle drives and sounds can go a long way towards ensuring that everything is working properly. That, and always making sure to follow the recommended maintenance and servicing schedule so that your vehicle always gets the professional help it needs.

Jiffy Lube® recommends following manufacturer recommendations, where applicable, for maintenance schedules and service intervals.

Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center for specific services offered.