Auto Maintenance: Back-to-School Car Care Checklist

ZCC-car toy with pencil and paper

06 Aug Auto Maintenance: Back-to-School Car Care Checklist

I know summer is still in full swing, but it is time to start thinking about when the kids go back to school. If you have little tikes, that means driving them to school, sports events, band practice, dance lessons, and other after school activities. If you have kids that drive themselves to school, that means making sure their cars are safe and ready to handle anything this school year throws at them. This back-to-school car care checklist should help. It deals with basic auto maintenance, common car issues, and some auto safety tips.

Basic Auto Maintenance

The very best way to take care of your car is to always do the routine maintenance. Your owner’s manual has very valuable information on which services are needed, and how often. Most manufacturers suggest that a maintenance service be performed at key mileage milestones, like every 15,000/30,000/60,000 miles. If any of these mileage milestones are coming up, it may be a good idea to talk it over with your service technician and decide if they can be performed early, before the craziness of the school year starts.

Common Car Issues

If you do a lot of driving, you have probably run across one or more of these common car issues. Most of them deal with consumable components – items that get used up or worn out over time. It is best to deal with these issues as soon as they come up. Putting them off may cost you more money in the long run, because more expensive repairs and replacements can occur.

Dashboard Lights

Most modern cars have a wide variety of dashboard lights. They can indicate anything from low fuel to low tire pressure, or the dreaded Check Engine light. A qualified Service Center can usually get you a diagnosis pretty quickly and let you know what the issue is. Your owner’s manual also has a troubleshooting section that may prove helpful as well.


Check your tires over carefully. Look for uneven tread wear, low pressure, and any damages to the sidewall and tread. A service technician can also check to make sure the tires & wheels are properly rotated, aligned, and balanced to provide you with the best scenario for long tire life. Don’t forget to check the spare!


Make sure your car’s battery is free from corrosion on the terminals. If they need to be cleaned, make sure to wear safety goggles and scrub them with a brush and a little baking soda and water. Some batteries can be serviced and the fluids refilled, but some batteries are sealed. They have a specific shelf life, so make sure to replace them every 3-5 years.


When you think of auto safety, your brakes are the first line of defense. If you are noticing squeaking, grinding when you apply the brakes, or if you have really dirty wheels/rims, it may be time to schedule a Brake Service.

Fluids & Filters

Your car uses a bunch of different fluids and it is important to monitor and top off all the fluids regularly. Most of these fluids have specific lifespans and will need to be replaced (not just refilled) eventually. Your owner’s manual has the manufacturer suggested time frame and mileage marker for all the fluids. When you have an oil change, it’s a good idea to have your service technician check all the following fluids and filters. They can help advise you when refilling or replacement is needed.

  • Oil & Oil Filter
  • Antifreeze/Coolant
  • Brake Fluid
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Cabin Air Filter

Auto Safety Tips

Once you get the car running great with all its routine maintenance taken care of, take some time to check and pack some essentials to keep you safe, both on the road and off.

College Bound Students

Many college bound students will be driving to a different state to attend college, so here’s a great list of things to have in the car.

  • An old-school paper map of each state they will be driving through.
  • A First Aid Kit complete with; Band-Aids, rubber gloves, mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, ace bandages, aspirin, sunblock, lip balm, drinking water, thermal blanket, hand towel, chemical ice packs, chemical hand/foot warmers, tweezer, scissors.
  • An Emergency Roadside Kit which includes; a flashlight, reflective gear (road triangle, vest, etc.), flares, jumper cables, multi-tool, extra batteries, a tire pressure gauge, duct tape.
  • Extra phone charger, spare change, ice scraper, an umbrella, and the car’s owner’s manual.

Kindergarten-Middle School Students

Kids grow fast, so it is important to check your child’s height and weight against their car seat or booster seat to make sure they are within the safety parameters of the apparatus. If they have outgrown their car seat, make sure to go over with them the proper way to wear a seat belt, like a ‘grown up’. If you need help, check out NHTSA’s website for details.

Schedule An Auto Maintenance Service

Z’s Car Care has been providing reliable auto service, auto maintenance and auto repair to the Hillsboro area for over 35 years. You can count on our repair shop for an honest and reliable diagnosis of issues, and quality repair. Feel free to contact us at (503) 648-3552 or online to schedule your appointment today!

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