Car Help 101: Routine Car Maintenance (What Needs Checking?)

Cars need to have routine maintenance performed on them in order to stay running as efficiently as possible. You probably are aware of this fact, but you may not know exactly what you need to check to maintain car health, or what your local mechanic will be working on when you take your car into the auto shop for its next tune up. Here is a bit of advice from our car help 101 instructor to make you aware of some of the most important engine components that you (with the help of a qualified auto technician) should keep an eye on in terms of regular maintenance.

Air Filter

The modern internal combustion engine needs two basic things to run: fuel and air. Your engine’s air filter is therefore a crucial part of car health. If the air filter is dirty and clogged the engine will have to strain harder to bring in clean air which is necessary for the combustion process. This will both kill your fuel efficiency (making you spend more money at the gas pump) and devastate the longevity of your engine. So, the first piece of advice in this car help post is to regularly get your air filter checked and replaced if necessary.

Your air filter will almost certainly not look this nice...

Fuel Filter

After the last item, you should have seen this one coming. Yes, the other side of the maintenance coin for your engine’s input is the fuel filter. If an air filter filters the air, then I will leave it to your imagination to figure out what the fuel filter does. And if the fuel filter gets dirty, then.. well, I think you get the picture. The takeaway is that you should make sure that the next time you bring your car into the auto shop for a tune up you make sure that they check both of these filters.


Your engine requires a variety of different fluids to keep it running. These include power steering fluid, antifreeze, transmission fluid and brake fluid. Of course, the engine’s efficiency and overall car health will suffer if any of these are low, dirty or degraded.


Did you notice that there was a particularly prominent engine fluid missing from the previous list? Yes, it is the rockstar of engine fluids–engine oil. Oil is the lubricant that keeps your engine going and keeps everything from rubbing, clashing or heating up too much. It gets its own category because it is the most important fluid in your vehicle’s engine and needs the most attention. Car help 101 dictates regular oil changes should never be neglected.

Belts and Hoses

The engine on your car has a variety of belts and hoses which connect various components and must be checked periodically to make sure they aren’t becoming loose, stiff, cracked or otherwise degraded.


Your tires are what connects you to the road, so they are crucial for car health and a must check when you bring the car into the auto shop. Tire tread must be monitored and tires should be replaced when the tread is worn out. Irregular tire wear also may indicate another problem with the suspension or alignment. Tires should also be rotated about every 5,000 miles to keep the tread wear even and prolong the life of the tires.