Whether you’re in Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale, your vehicle requires a great deal of TLC and regular maintenance. Unlike other parts of the country, Arizona’s weather, sand, and heat (SO! MUCH! HEAT!) can be a doozy on cars that aren’t taken care of properly. Here are 20 of the most important car maintenance tasks every Arizona car owner should perform to prevent their vehicles from falling apart early.
20) Check & Change Your Oil
Check your fuel at least once per month, or preferably more frequently if you drive a lot. To maximize your engine’s life, it’s recommended that you change your oil every 3,000 miles. Arizona’s desert landscapes aren’t nice to oil.
(However, be sure to read your owner’s manual for recommended oil-change times and oil types. Some Honda models, for instance, require premium oil and may only need oil changes every 5,000 miles.)
19) Change Your Oil Filters, Too
Swapping out old oil with new oil is just half the battle. Because of that Arizona desert sand, your oil filter is more likely to get clogged if left unattended for too long. We recommend changing the filters with each oil change, just as a precaution.
18) Replace Those Fuel Filters
Condensation, dirt, debris, and sand can restrict fuel flow and shorten the life of your car’s trusty fuel pump. To maximize your vehicle’s performance long-term, you should change your fuel filter every 24,000 miles or 3 years, depending on use.
17) Air Filters Need Changed
If you hadn’t guessed, because of Arizona’s climate, your car’s filters are more susceptible to nasty ailments. At each oil change, inspect your air filter. Replace each year or when they’re displaying signs of wear-down, which may include small tears, holes, or saturation of dirt, oil, and water.
16) That’s Lubrication, Holmes
The majority of new vehicles, Honda included, are pre-lubricated to prevent friction. However, older used cars may need to have essential components lubricated every so often. Suspension, steering, brakes, axles, and other components found on the chassis may require periodic lubrication. Check with your mechanic or Arizona auto service center for advice.
15) Transmission Fluid
Lots of fluids flow through your car, including transmission fluid. We recommend checking automatic transmission fluid levels with your engine running, and changing it every 2 to 3 years. For manual transmissions, fluids can probably last for 3 or 4 years, though it’s always best to check with your trusted service technician.
14) Windshield Wiper Fluid
Wiper fluid is essential, especially in this part of the country. Keep a spare jug of washer fluid in your trunk or garage, and add to the windshield wiper fluid compartment under the hood if low. Also, be sure to only use washer fluid! Water can contain contaminants like iron that may clog your wiper fluid lines.
13) Power Steering Fluid
If you sometimes notice your car’s steering go stiff or loose, it could be because you’re low on power steering fluid. Top it off and be on the lookout for symptoms of leaks; if you need to add more fluid often, you may need to replace the lines. Power steering fluid should be replaced every 3 years or 36,000 miles, but again, check your vehicle’s manual for specifics.
12) Replace Coolant
Replacing coolant is of the most important car maintenance tasks drivers in Arizona should perform. Check coolant levels in the reservoir at least once per year. If too low, add your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant or mixture. Most new cars can go at least 2 years without needing new coolant, but that depends on usage and the vehicle model.
11) Inspect Hoses & Belts
Belts and hoses in your car can break, and when they do, it can be sudden and dangerous. At each oil change, inspect those components for signs of leaks, pinholes, cracks, rust, slippage, and general deterioration. Some common belts and hoses that break down include:
- Accessory belts
- Serpentine belts (drive belts)
- Timing belts
- Coolant hoses
Luckily, most newer cars have very durable belts and hoses that only require service every 90,000-ish miles. But don’t let that fool you—a bad belt or hose could cause catastrophic damage to an engine, water pump, fuel pump, or any number of internal components.
10) Brake Pads & Rotors
Under normal driving conditions, brake pads and rotors can last anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 miles. However, Arizona is rarely seen as a “normal driving” place. Because of the heat, brakes can deteriorate quicker than in other parts of the country, requiring you to replace pads and rotors perhaps more frequently. Inspect all brake parts for signs of damage at least once per year, and replace the pads and rotors early—otherwise you may begin hearing grinding and squealing sounds when you come to stops. And that’s bad news.
9) Oxygen Sensors
The oxygen sensor, or O2 sensor, is mounted in your exhaust manifold and monitors how efficient your vehicle is using fuel. In modern vehicles and new Honda models, an O2 sensor dashboard light is usually the first signs that a replacement is needed. Check your owner’s manual for advice.
8) Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are cheap to replace when done early, but can cause problems that are expensive to repair if not addressed promptly. Spark plug replacement is usually not needed within the first 100,000 miles, but (again) look at your vehicle’s manual for recommended intervals.
7) Steering & Suspension Maintenance
Annual inspections of your shocks, struts, ball joints, tie rods, and steering column are easy ways to prevent your car from joining the junkyard. Replace any loose hardware or damaged parts as needed.
Between the cold evenings and super-hot afternoons, tire pressure can change very frequently in Arizona. It’s important to monitor your PSI and fill your tires with air. This will improve fuel efficiency, reduce tire alignment problems, and prolong the life of your tires overall.
Also, you should perform tire rotations along with every oil change to prevent irregular wear.
5) Car Washes and Waxes
The only fun part about performing regular car maintenance is washing and waxing your vehicle. Washing your car should be done regularly – even once per month – and waxing can be put on your quarterly to-do list. A strong coat of car wax will prevent scratches from sand and overall deterioration caused by UV rays.
4) Check On That “Check Engine” Light
While you may be able to put off getting a tire rotation or oil change for a few hundred miles, you shouldn’t postpone visiting a mechanic when the “Check Engine” light is on. Your car may have a problem with its O2 sensor (no big deal) or catalytic converter (big deal). Don’t put it off! Visit your Arizona auto service center ASAP!
3) Car Battery
Today’s car batteries can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years, depending on its quality. Replace any car battery that’s past its prime, isn’t keeping a charge, has severely corroded terminals, or prevents you from starting your car. Most good car batteries can be purchased for under $200. Contact your Valley Honda Dealers parts center for pricing or installation help.
2) Multipoint Inspections
With every oil change, request that your auto service technicians perform a thorough multi-point inspection. They will check all essential components of your vehicle to ensure no must-do tasks are needed. If they are, your mechanic will discuss options.
1) Follow Your Regular Maintenance Schedule
If we said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual! It will lay out all the necessary maintenance tasks to perform and when to perform them. Not all makes and models are the same, so it’s imperative you understand when to have your routine auto maintenance performed.
Alternatively, you can ask the techs at your trusted Honda service center near Phoenix to help. We’re always available to inspect and repair problem parts.