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The Importance Of A Car Care Checklist

As a woman in the auto repair industry, who knows quite a bit about cars, I want to take some time to help explain a few things about a car care checklist and why it is so important to understand and keep track of. By definition a checklist is a list of items that need to be completed or considered and it is used as a reminder to make sure the items get done. Similar to the checklist you make for the grocery store a car care checklist helps you understand what needs to be done on your car and when. Depending on how you accomplish things you might have a different checklist than others. The important part is that it works for you.

In the auto industry there are different ways to determine the service maintenance needed to keep your car running at top performance levels. Car manufacturers set mileage schedules for all of their cars but it is not found in your cars maintenance manual. In most cases they want you to contact them for the scheduled maintenance so they can do it for you. Its business and that is what business is all about, making money. You can often save money by choosing to have your car serviced at an independent repair shop who charges less for their hourly labor rate or by completing the needed service yourself.

In any case you always want to keep track of what service and repair has been completed on your car. This is where the car care checklist plays a key factor in making sure your financial investment continues to yield positive results a.k.a. so your car doesn’t die before you can get your “monies worth” out of it.

By keeping up with your cars maintenance and repair with a car care checklist you are ensuring that you:

1) Are not paying more for services than what you need to pay by completing services you don’t’ actually need.
    (as in a shop tells you “you need this” and all you can do is trust them.)

2) Find out if a shop is going to be honest with you about what you need.

3) When something does go wrong, you have a better idea of what may be going wrong and can answer the service           advisors questions easier.

4) Overall, knowing this information gives you more peace of mind when dealing with auto repair shops and dealers.

Because most people do not have service schedules they have to rely on repair shops and dealers to tell them when the service needs to be completed. So when you go in for an oil change and they tell you “At this mileage the scheduled service maintenance is …., do you want to complete it?” it is not because they just want you to spend money, it’s because it’s something recommended by the car manufacturer. When you keep track of this information you can make a more educated decision about servicing your car. When you add both the service maintenance (mentioned above) and any repairs they find during the safety inspection, sometimes your bill can seem rather large. Please remember that the service and repair you choose to complete is your choice. By keeping a record of what is needed for your car, you can confidently say, I’ve already had that done recently and are not pressured to spend more than you know you need to.

That brings us the second important reason to keep up with this information, to find out if a shop is going to be honest with you about what you need. It makes weeding out those untruthful shops, who don’t have your best interest in mind, a lot easier. Most repair shops use a 1. Do now. 2. We see this but it can wait. and 3. Keep an eye on this in the future. type scale to help you understand what needs to be done right away and what doesn’t. If a shop is trying to push you into buying something you are not totally sure you need, don’t do it. Find another shop that you can trust will have your back and who keeps your car running for a long time.

With everything we have to deal with on a daily basis the last thing we really want to deal with is a broken car. By keeping up with your scheduled maintenance it helps ensure your car does not break down. If you keep up with service maintenance and repair what the shop advises you to repair when they advise you to repair it, it is less likely you will have to come up with hundreds of dollars to spend on a costly repair at any given time. If your car does break down, at least you will have an idea of what the issue is and can communicate that to the service advisor at the shop you decide to take your car to.

So, the car care checklist is not just a piece of paper auto technicians recommend keeping in your glove box. It is the security you need to ensure the service and repair completed on your car is accurate. It is what helps you figure out what repair shop is going to be trustworthy. It is what helps you understand your car so you can communicate with your personal service advisor. It is important to keep up with so you know you are not getting taken advantage of.

Here is a downloadable/printable checklist from Sun Valley Imports you can use to make sure you’re doing what is needed for your car. This checklist is not based on any specific car or scheduled maintenance. It is a general checklist based on what we would look at in specific intervals. It has basic recommendations for inspection and replacement of items such as Air filters, Fuel Filters and other service related items. It does not tell you when parts are likely to fail. This information does not take into account specific winterizing or summer preparations.

Here are a few apps that you can review to help you keep up with your mileage, gas mileage, and service maintenance.

1) Vehicle Logbook – MPG, Maintenance & Service  (iphone Only)

2) Gas Chubby by Fuelly – MPG, Maintenance & Service (iphone Only)

3)  aCar – car Management, Mileage (android)

4)  Drivvo – Car Management  (android)

Helpful links for car care:


Weather you choose to keep up with this information or not we always recommend using a trusted mechanic for everything your car needs in service or repair. A few good reasons to keep going back to the same mechanic include:

· Loyal customer discounts

· The technicians and service advisors learn who you are and how you want your car taken care of.

· The technicians learn your car and what needs to be done or not.

· The service advisors can keep you informed on the conditions of the items they say keep an eye on.

· If you really don’t want to keep up with your own checklist, your shop can do it for you.

SVI Car Care Checklist Download

Cherril Babbs

I am Cherril and I have been around cars and trucks my entire life. From watching my dad hang motors by a tree limb in our back yard at 4, to working on my own cars and eventually writing content and creating advertising material in my current position at a European auto repair shop, I understand both the customer (you) and the shop side of auto repair and service. Do I always agree with everything on both sides, no, but do I understand them, yes. I have decided to help bridge the gap between what many people think and feel about cars and auto shops and what we actually do at this shop. It is my goal to help you understand your options and the facts of the situations we see every day. I always encourage you to ask questions no matter where you choose to have your car worked on.

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