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  • Preparation
    • Time Clear out enough time in your schedule to do this properly.
    • Tools Use the proper ones; using a butter knife as a screw driver doesn’t always work.
    • Location Find a safe place to do the maintenance, preferably not in the middle of the street.
    • Directions If you’re doing some maintenance chore for the first time, read the directions carefully, or have someone do it with you.
    • Supplies Ensure that you have all the correct supplies you need; oil, transmission fluid, etc. before you start.
  • Gear
    • Shirt Make sure that this is a long-sleeved shirt that you don’t plan on using for anything but greasy things again.
    • Pants Long pants that you only plan to use for working on vehicles, because they’re not going to be useful for much else.
    • Goggles These will be quite useful when taking on nuts and bolts that are tight, having to do any welding, etc…but wear them all the time anyway.
    • Hat If not a hat, pull long hair back into a pony tail so that it does not get caught into engine parts while being worked on.
    • Shoes Preferably heavy-duty shoes or boots, with steel toes in them, just in case the vehicle falls on your foot.
    • Towels A few of these on hand to wipe your hands on will help you grab hold of things much more easily.
    • Compressor Use this only as necessary, to put air in tires, or test some lines.
  • Equipment
    • Wrenches Use correct sizes where appropriate, with the correct handling, so you don’t hurt yourself or the engine.
    • Ratchets Using the correct ends, put them together, and use it correctly so nothing is stripped, and you don’t get hurt.
    • Screwdrivers Whether Phillips or flat, pick the right size so the screwdriver doesn’t break.
    • Gauges Use a tire gauge for a tire, not to check something else in the vehicle.
    • Lifts If the vehicle needs to go up in the air for some under-body work, then use a lift, not some metal boxes or something similar. That’s just asking for trouble.
    • Chargers If some tools are portable, and can be charged, keep them out of the way of water so you avoid electrocution.
    • Toolboxes Take advantage of these to organize your tools well, and keep them out of the way, as they will be heavy.
    • Fluids Keep these out of the way, up on a high shelf, so that no one wandering through will be able to just knock them over and cause a spill.
  • Things to Plan For
    • Time Vehicle maintenance always ends up taking longer than planned, so build in extra time to your schedule.
    • Food Make sure that you keep up your energy while doing the vehicle maintenance, so you can think properly and stay safe.
    • Cost Know exactly what type of vehicle maintenance you are planning on doing, and the costs associated with it.
    • Hydration Working on vehicle maintenance can get very hot, so make sure to take breaks for water, you’ll be safer because you will feel better.
    • First Aid Know exactly who to call, and what to do for quick First Aid procedures if it’s needed for your or others’ safety.
    • Problems No matter what, there will always be some sort of problem that comes up, even during routine vehicle maintenance, so be prepared for it.

Vehicle maintenance is simple for some people to do, and for others, it is not.  While it is not hard, consider the fact that one must practice safety while maintaining a car.  Tools and engines and belts and such things can be intimidating for a novice, while others are well meaning but all thumbs and awkward with no ability to use the tools.  Thinking about safety will help, and maintenance will be much easier. Safety regarding vehicle maintenance begins with using the proper tools in the first place.  In other words, don’t use a hammer to dislodge a nut that is wedged on too tight.  Using a well-placed ratchet to loosen it will do the trick.  Using a tire jack to lift the car up instead of a couple of metal crates is better, and far safer. Taking care of your vehicle by using this checklist is good for your own safety.  And, respecting other drivers by using the vehicle maintenance checklist for everyone’s safety is a great thing.


Keep in mind that some vehicle maintenance in bad weather is possible, if it is done inside a garage, with the door sealed shut.  Of course, that means that the car can’t run, so that no carbon monoxide is put off to endanger the maintenance person. Ensuring that oil changes are done on a regular basis, and tires changed out should be just one part of the vehicle maintenance checklist.

Rotating out headlights and changing brakes are also important parts of safety so that other drivers don’t run into you.  Simple things like these pay off for the vehicle’s long term safety and usage, and keeps maintenance costs down.  As your skills and understanding of the vehicle maintenance checklist begin to increase, your level of safety will also.  Remembering to use the appropriate tools, will be a good start.

Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
  Taylor Peterson

on January 2, 2012

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