Maybe you still do your own oil changes, and that's great! But whether you enjoy doing it yourself, or you depend on a repair shop, there are a few things that should be done besides draining out that old oil and screwing on a new filter.
Depending on whether your vehicle uses conventional oil (3,000 miles) or synthetic oil (5,000 miles), your mileage interval will vary, but the procedure is the same.
Your vehicle needs fresh engine oil and you should always use a new oil filter.
This is a good time to lubricate the chassis, all door hinges, and any pivot points.
At our shop, we check the air filter and cabin air filter. Fall and Winter months in the Northeast are notorious for mouse activity as they look for places to nest and cozy up for the cold weather.
We also check and top off all the other fluids, such as power steering fluid, brake fluid, washer fluid, and coolant. If your vehicle's fluids need more than just a splash to bring the level up to capacity, you may possibly have a leak.
Check the belts for cracks and wear, and give the heater and radiator hoses a squeeze to make sure they aren't mushy or crunchy.
Tires should be inspected for wear, and air pressure should be adjusted according to manufacturer's specifications.
Windshield wipers are made of rubber. Over time, rubber splits and tears, especially when dragged across a glass surface. This is a good time to inspect and/or replace your wipers.
And of course, the maintenance reminder light should be reset.
While your vehicle is on the lift, it's the perfect time to inspect the undercarriage, steering components, and suspension.
EVERY OTHER OIL CHANGE, or 6,000/10,000 miles, is a good interval for performing your tire rotation. Tire rotations are very important. (See my post on Tires.)
Performing an oil change is one of the most basic maintenance items, but it's also one of the most important. Making it a habit to change your engine's oil every 3-5,000 miles not only ensures warranty validation, it keeps your engine running smoothly, and also makes you aware of any potential problems.
Driving a reliable car gives us a little peace of mind, and couldn't we all use a little of that?