Most people have heard that you need regularly scheduled maintenance on your car to keep it running well. If you ask random Joe on the street what that means you'll probably get answers like "Oil change every 3000 miles and a tune up every once in a while, other than that, bring it in when it breaks down or you hear a noise."
That tends to be the general consensus on how to maintain your car. Or, if you are my Uber driver from North Atlanta on New Years Eve, you let the oil light, check engine light, low gas light, and low tire pressure light just stay on because of the fancy colors and hey, "its festive".
In reality, you can find pretty much all of the information you need in the owners manual. The timing for when you should do things like change the oil, drive belt, filters, etc. Who knew that most car recommend you change your cabin air filter every 1-2 years? If your car smells musty on the inside like the bottom of a wet rotting log in the forest, you might just want to check the old cabin air filter.
Here are a few things that you can do on your own as a preventative maintenance check:
1. Learn to check all of your fluids and then do so at least monthly. Check oil, power steering, antifreeze, wiper fluid, and coolant at a minimum. Know what you are comfortable changing when needed and keeping topped off and take any other issues to your mechanic.
2. Check your tire pressure regularly. You know those machines at gas stations that fill up your tires? Don't use the air pressure guage on those. Billy Bob the trucker has dropped that thing and run over it with his full trailer load of twinkies way to many times for it to be accurate. Buy a $2 cheap tire air guage and keep it in your car. This check keeps your car safer by lowering catastrophic tire failure changes, and can even help your fuel mileage.
3. Change your wiper blades when they aren't working well and leave streaks on your windshield. That is about as much explanation anyone should need for that.
4. Rotate your tires and take them in once every year or two to make sure they are balanced. Personally, I take my vehilces in to the shop for this work.
5. Check your spark plugs for buildup or nastiness. If they look gross, there is inefficiency there. They are not expensive to replace so definitely look at getting that done every 3-4 years. Some will last much longer, others won't. I have mine checked in my yearly tune up.
6. Change filters, fluids, and belts as recommended by your owners manual. This stuff is simple and most are very easy to do on your own.