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A person using a hand-held vacuum on the floor of the front seat of the car - driver's side

In keeping with my maintenance theme, I am ending the series with the easily overlooked workhorse – the car. Our car is a major investment and often an extension of our home. Yet, because it is not actually a part of our home, car maintenance is easy to forget.

Car maintenance inside the car

Whether you use your car to drive to client’s homes, transport kids or pets, run errands, or haul recycling and donations, you want to keep the interior of your car tidy and clean.  Built up dirt and grime not only does not give a good impression but can eventually damage your car’s interior.

To maintain your car’s interior, it is recommended that you:

  • Clear out all trash each time you leave your car


  • Take out and clean floor mats
  • Vacuum the interior
  • Wipe down your dashboard
  • Clean your console
  • Clean out cup holders and door panels
  • Declutter and wipe down glove compartments – more often if you stash food items here
  • Clean the inside of windows
  • Wipe down the seats

While I am really good at clearing out loose trash, I am not so great at doing the other tasks monthly. I am the only one using the car and there are no children or pets who ride in it. No one sits on my back seats, but I do use them to carry donations and recycling. I can see though that having a monthly reminder to check these areas in my car would be a very good idea.

Car maintenance outside the car

Just like when you dress well you feel good, when your car’s exterior looks good, you feel good when driving it.

  • Wash the car regularly

The general recommendation is to wash the car every two weeks. However, if you don’t drive your car very much and if it is kept in a garage or carport, that is not necessary. If you have been driving over dusty roads, or where salt has been put on the roads, or here in the south during pollen season, you may even want to wash more often.

  • Wax the car twice a year

Waxing the car not only makes it look pretty but it protects the paint job from damage from the dust, dirt, salt, and bugs.

Not being a person who likes to do this, I just get my car detailed when it begins to look dirty.

Car maintenance under the hood

How often should you perform routine maintenance? This depends on your car’s make and model as well as your driving habits. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations which you can find in the owner’s manual.  You want to stay on top of this to avoid costly repairs and roadside breakdowns.  As a general guideline we need to keep track of:

Oil and fluids

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid

Tires and wheels

  • Tire pressure
  • Tire tread
  • Tire rotation and balancing

Brakes and suspension


Filters and belts

Steering and alignment


windshield wipers

I find that if you have your regular servicing done at your dealership, they will do these checks for you. I also have tire pressure monitors for my tires and I keep an eye on them to see if the tires have the correct pressure. At one point in time my car had a system that would alert me when a tire was low, but I am driving an ’08 car and that stopped working, and it is not worth the expense to repair.

Even if it is not quite time for a regular check-up, I like to take my car in for a check-up and service before a long trip.

 I love my ’08 car. I have been asked why I don’t buy a new car, but this one suits me. It even has a name. So, the Red Rooster and I will carry on along together as long as we can. I will take care of it, by doing routine car maintenance, and I know it will not let me down for as long as it can.

If you want help setting up a personalized maintenance plan for your car or home or are working on a project and want some guidance and support, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space For You virtual organizing group. The group will offer ideas, support, and gentle accountability for working on developing plans or projects.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.




  • Like you, I am good about immediately taking out the car’s trash. One of the things I like about my car is the display reminder feature. When it’s time for an oil change or if my tires need air, a signal appears to let me know.

    I love a clean car. I keep a dust rag in the glove compartment for quick dashboard dusting and a glass cleaner in the trunk if the windows need attention.

  • I usually clean my car at the end of the winter season. I don’t use it that often. I, too, only use the car for myself. May is pollen season, so my blue car looks green within a week. So, taking it to the self-clean car wash is affordable.

    My car has an app that tells me if tire pressure is low or if I need to come in for maintenance. Otherwise, I add an appointment to my calendar every 2-3 months to get car services and do other things like registration and inspection. It works as a reminder in case my life gets away from me.

  • Seana Turner says:

    I’m happy to say I am up to date on this one! I just got my car back from a major overhaul, and then I went ahead and got it cleaned. It feels so good. They even put a sort of “new car” spray to make it feel fresh. Since I spend a lot of time in my car, this one has made a big difference in my daily quality of life.

    Also, one thing I love about the newer cars is that they let you know when a tire’s pressure is low. I think that is very helpful.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    May you and the Red Rooster live long and prosper. I had my last car, a 1998 Saturn that I got new at the end of 1997, for almost 21 years, and I would have kept it forever if I could. I baby my now six-year-old Kia Soul, although it seems to be haunted. No matter how much I baby it, bad luck seems to follow it. I’ve had the driver’s side mirror stolen, two people have hit the car from the rear when my car was not even in motion (once when it was parked at my home!). Last year it was stolen, requiring two months of repair work, and last month someone smashed in the rear passenger window doing the first “permanent” damage, as the broken glass scratched up the interior door as well as the paint, but in too small of areas for insurance to cover it.

    The interior of my car is ridiculously clean, as there’s rarely anything inside of it, but it sure does get dusty. Your approach to keeping a car functional and tidy is great; now can we all just find a way to clean the interior front windshield without breaking our necks?

  • I always love a clean car. I can’t imagine a dirty space while driving to places.
    My husband and I keep a checklist of the car maintenance dates that need to be done regularly, as you need appointments for most of it.
    Great list, and thanks for the reminder as our annual car inspections are coming up.

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