Four Stroke Firing Cycle
Routine Maintenance 
Your car, when it was delivered as a new product, usually has an owner's (user's) manual. This manual will describe the various periodic checks and maintenance suggested by the manufacturer as appropriate to keep the car safely operational with a minimum of problems.
- Checking tire tread.
Tires made for a passenger car or light truck will have straight grooves cut in the tread with small sections cut exactly 2/32nd of an inch higher than the groove. These raised sections are called wear indicator bars or wear bars. If the tread is worn down to the wear bars, the tire is considered unsafe and illegal in some states. Poor tire tread will slip more during braking, give longer braking distance, interfere with ABS, and cause loss of control.
Excessive tire wear is a good indicator of other problems in the suspension. Wear on either side or short tire life shows a need for alignment. Wear on both sides shows underinflation. Wear in the center shows overinflation.
- Checking tire air pressure.
Do not inflate tires to the pressure labeled on the side of the tire. Tires generally have the appropriate air pressure printed on a label inside the drivers door, as well as the manual. This pressure is based on the load (vehicle weight) placed on the volume of air. The listed pressure is for an unloaded vehicle, based on sprung (above the spring) weight and a 150 lb. driver. An increase in weight may call for higher pressure to keep the proper shape on the tire.
Air loss over time and temperature variation from winter lows to summer peaks guarantee that tires not checked periodically will run at low pressures or high pressures. Use of nitrogen can counteract this effect. This results in reduced road gripping capability and premature wear on the tires, reducing the effectiveness and life of the tire. Check for the correct air pressure once a month or every couple of fueling stops.
- Checking fluid levels
Fluid level is very important in all vehicles as low or even overfilled fluids can cause malfunctions or even damage. Recommended fluid levels can be found on the sides of fluid reseviors (if Equipped) or can be checked by means of a dipstick. certain fluid levels can only be checked under certain criteria whether it be with the engine running or off, hot or cold depending on the system. always check levels on a flat level surface as an inclination will give erroneous level readings. Each system uses a different fluid type. most systems require fluids for lubricaion others require fluid for creating pressure to perform a task. all underhood fluids that perform a task are formulated similarly across all vehicle manufactureres but may vary with certain models always check an owners manual or underhood stickers before adding. some vehicles require a special fluid
The brake fluid reservoir should not be opened unless you are performing repairs. Brake fluid is hygrophobic and will absorb water from the air, which degrades heat tolerance and performance. Current standards hold that the fluid level should be visible without opening. Low or missing fluid will trigger the float sensor and light up the brake warning light. If you are low on brake fluid, check your brake pads for wear.
- Checking the oil.
Most cars and truck have an easily accessible dipstick to make routine checking of the oil easy. When you fill up with fuel either ask the station attendent or check the oil yourself. Extract the dipstick. Wipe it down clean with a clean rag or paper towel. Reinsert the dipstick all the way. Extract it again and look for marks near its end that are labeled as being a full zone, needing a quart, or add more than a quart.
- Adding oil when necessary.
When adding oil be sure to locate the proper spout to put the oil in. Many cars and trucks have places to add transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield cleaners, radiator coolant in the same engine compartment. It will thoroughly mess things up to be putting motor oil in the improper place!. Check the owner's manual or look for specific labeling on the spout plug. Oil is typically but not always added at or near the top of the engine block.
- Changing the oil.
- Checking the transmission fluid in automatic transmissions.
- Changing brake pads on disc brakes.
Replacing your own pads is never recommended due to liability.
Worn pads can be visible through the caliper, usually after the tires are removed. Use a clamp to compress the pads toward the caliper to push the piston out of the way. Open the bleeder nut to relieve pressure and try not to force fluid up the brake line. Push the piston to the bottom. Remove the slider pins to pull the caliper away. Do not disconnect the brake line or let the caliper fall and pull on the line. Keep the thin metal clips and plates, they reduce noise. Reassemble and fill brake fluid.
It is appropriate every couple of months to check that all your lights are working and in the case of headlights aimed properly. To check direction of headlights on low and high beam park square in front of the side of a building or back of a garage and toggle the headlights to get an idea of where the high and low beams are aimed. The low beam should be aimed down a bit and slightly away from on coming drivers. The high beams are higher to penetrate down the road and also slightly off center to reduce visibility problems for oncoming drivers. It is important and useful to clean dirt and grime off of lights even if the car undergoes no other periodic washing. This enhances the effectiveness of the lights.
- Washing and Waxing Exterior
Routine washing can substantially reduce corrosion problems while waxing can extend the lifetime of the paint on the car exterior. Some cars now have special exterior coatings on top of the paint so checking the owner's manual for suggested washing practices is appropriate.
Repairs as Necessary 
Repairs as necessary usually occur when an automobile no longer functions safely or at all. It could involve something easily done for yourself such as changing a flat tire using a spare from your trunk or something much more demanding such as overhauling or repairing a transmission.
Equipping a Home Shop for Automobile Maintenance 
The basic tools needed for home maintenance is actually quite simple. Most small repairs and maintenance can be done with either a metric or standard set of sockets and wrenches respectively. A ratchet can make repairs a lot faster. Both flat head and Phillips screw drivers could be needed. A small tire gauge gives a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to determine of your tires have enough pressure increasing fuel economy.