the front of a red car

DIY Car Maintenance and Detailling Guide: Take These 10 Steps

DIY Car Maintenance and Detailling Guide: Take These 10 Steps

10 Basic Car Maintenance Tips


Keeping up with a basic car maintenance schedule will extend your car’s longevity, increase fuel efficiency and gas mileage, and keep it looking and running like the day you brought it home from the dealership. Here are 10 basic car maintenance tips to preserve that new car look.


Table of Contents

  1. Maintenance Checklist
  2. Detailing
    1. Checklist
    2. Maintaining
    3. Exterior Products
    4. Interior Products
  3. Key Takeaways


Basic Car Maintenance Checklist


  1. Change your oil and engine air filter, and maintain fluid levels. Motor oil should be checked at every fill-up and changed per the owner’s manual recommended intervals. The brake fluid level, transmission fluid level, power steering fluid level, coolant level, and windshield washer fluid level should also be checked regularly.
  2. Inspect hoses at each oil change and replace them when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen, or restricted.
  3. Have the brake pads, linings, rotors, and drums inspected at each oil change. Every year, check the engine brake system.
  4. Check that the car battery connection is clean, tight, and corrosion-free. The battery should be securely mounted. If the battery is three years old or more, test it and replace it if necessary. Testing can be done at many auto parts stores.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage, and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise.
  6. Schedule a tune-up that will help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
  7. Check the car’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, in addition to the cabin air filter.
  8. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers and struts, and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, and other related components.
  9. Check the tire pressure of all tires, including the spare, at least once a month. Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear, cuts, and bruises along the sidewalls.
  10. Test exterior and interior lights and have bulbs that are not working checked immediately. Replace windshield wiper blades every six months.


Basic Car Detailing Maintenance Checklist


Now that you have completed basic car care and vehicle maintenance steps to address any mechanical car needs, it's time to maintain and preserve the appearance of your vehicle. Regularly washing your car is one of the most important steps in maintaining painted surfaces, but don't stop there. Make sure you are taking steps to maintain the wheels, trim, and interior surfaces.


What order should I clean my car?


In car cleaning and detailing, a rule of thumb for all car owners is to always work from the outside to the inside and from the top to the bottom. Have clean microfiber towels, wash mitts, buckets, and cleaning chemicals prepped and ready for use. The proper order of operations for a complete basic exterior and interior car detail is as follows:


  1. Clean and hang floor mats
  2. Clean and protect wheels and tires
  3. Clean and protect the engine bay
  4. Pre-wash painted surfaces
  5. Wash painted surfaces
  6. Decontaminate painted surfaces
  7. Correct paint defects and imperfections
  8. Protect painted surfaces
  9. Restore and protect trim and cladding
  10. Clean, condition and protect interior leather
  11. Clean and deodorize interior fabric


How do you maintain a car after detailing?


After your car is clean, inside and out, there are a couple of DIY maintenance tasks that are critical to maintaining its condition and appearance. For the exterior of your vehicle, these steps include:


  • Washing with a quality car wash
  • Keeping up with paint protection

For the interior of your vehicle, these steps include:


  • Vacuuming crevices, compartments, and all fabric surfaces
  • Wiping down hard surfaces (dashboard, steering wheel, center console, etc.)


A full detail does not need to be performed more than one to two times per year, depending on the driving habits of the vehicle owner.


Some of Our Favorite Exterior Detailing Products



Some of Our Favorite Interior Detailing Products



Key Takeaways: Regular Maintenance Extends Car Life and Preserves Appearance


To keep your car running smoothly, looking new, and out of the repair shop, follow these 10 basic maintenance steps and keep up with regular cleaning. Buying a few quality detailing products to keep on hand will be key to maintaining your vehicle's appearance and overall condition. Your car and passengers will thank you.


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