Maintenance Records

After 15+ years of having my maintenance done by the dealer (yes, I know) economic reality has me planning to do as much as possible myself (plenty of experience when I was young). Rather than continually checking the manual and keeping a log book of what I do, I assumed I would be able to find an easily available, cheap (important) computer program that I could download that would be specific to my make and model, tell me what maintenance needs to be done at each interval, and let me record what I did and when I did it. But a quick search with Google and at tucows didn’t turn up anything that looked like that. Does anyone have any suggestions or should I just by a $0.79 notebook? Thanks.

I rely on the maintenance schedule that came with the car to tell me what needs to be done, and I use a spreadsheet to keep track of date, mileage, work done, cost, etc.

I’m not aware of a program such as the one you seek.

If you find one, please let us know.

Like mcparadise, I use the mfr’s maintenance schedule for a list of what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done.

I use graph paper to make a chart where I record what I have done, the date when it was done, and the odometer mileage of each service so that I can see at a glance when something needs to be updated. When I buy a new car, it takes me all of about 15 minutes to construct my chart, and then it takes me about 2 minutes to update it every time that the car is serviced.

This might be very low-tech, but it works.

I used the mfr’s maintenance schedule for what should be done, and then I record it in a $0.79 notebook, which I keep in the glove-box.

The simple notebook works fine for me.

I use the owner’s manual and keep track of required maintenance and repairs, and log expenses with a simple XL spread sheet. I have a 95 cent spiral booklet from Walmart in the glovebox to mark in purchases on the road. At the end of the year the XL rolls up all the expenses, calculates cost/mile, etc.

Have been doing this since 1965 when there were no computers to do this, and kept manual logs. No need to get fancy; you likely don’t have more than a dozen maintenance or repair activities per year.

Computers crash. Notebooks, properly stored, will last a lefetime.

I agree; at the entry of each repair I print off a new current sheet that goes into the 3 ring binder “Log Book” of the car. For my Nissan, the total line items cover only 3 pages of hard copy. The important thing is to keep the bills, 3 hole punched, so that you can refer back as to what exactly was done. If there was a warranty on the repair, you have the hard copy.

A computer would be a pain to scan all those bills and store them electronically.

The last car I sold, a Caprice, had the complete 3 ring binder with all that was ever done on the car. The buyer, a German chap, was delighted, since I also had the original sales brochure included.

When I get rid of a car, I purge the computer, but keep the hard copy expense summaries. Still have them of my 1965 Dodge dart.

I use the maintenance schedule that came with the car. I write the mileage, date, work done etc. right in the book. Saves $0.79.

I use excel. Just make up columns for Date, Mileage, Description, Cost, Where it was done, and remarks. I keep all my receipts in a separate folder so if the computer crashes, oh well.

3 cars, two bikes and one snowblower. Spreadsheet does it and the printouts hang on a nail in the garage.

Don’t you know how to make back-ups? A $0.15 CD or $0.20 DVD can back up a lot of important information.

Forgot to mention that I have a secondary copy saved on to my flash drive.

Others have mentioned using a spreadsheet to write the information down. While using Excel might be a good idea, it’s not very cheap($229 for the 2007 edition full version). There is a program that works very similar to the MS Office suite(powerpoint, excel, word, etc), called Open Office, that is free to download and use as long as you like, not a trial/demo version.
I don’t know if I’d be allowed to post the website, but it is kind of straightforward finding it(hint, it’s not a .com address)

Nice. I use CDs and a ghost drive.

Agree; I would not buy XL just to keep track of my car records. Having Micrposoft Office a;ready, you get Word, XL, Access, and Powerpoint included.

I suggest making a Spreadsheet in Google Documents. You likely will never lose it as it is all stored on-line and it is all free. Paper and spreadsheet files stored locally on a computer tend to get lost.

The coolest thing is they have an off-line capability to use it when not on-line and it sync’s the changes back to your account online when you regain an internet connection.

OK, I’m convinced. I’ll buy the notebook (from local market - I prefer to support local businesses over national chains) and I will do the Excel spreadsheet also - belt and suspenders (I already have Excel: two kids, three computers, Office home editions $100 for 3 computer license). Thanks all for chiming in.

I use a 3 ring binder with the clear plastic sleeves. Everything I have done to the car gets filed in each sleeve by date. If I do the repair myself, I just keep the invoice from NAPA for parts and record the mileage and date of the service.

I’ve never bothered to keep a master list on a spreadsheet since I just follow the owner’s manual.

Over the years an aviation style maintenance/repair logbook (http://www…e_logbook/) has evolved. I’ve found this style

recurring actions - planned prevention
non-recurring actions - squawks and their past remedy
fuel consumption/operating cost - performance history

pays for itself, including one-time cost to copy owner’s manual schedule to recurring action entries, and on-going entry cost.

Consider MoinMoin wiki ( + 3-ring binder.

For decades, I’ve supplied a 3-ring aviation style binder maintenance log with every computer I’ve installed, including a CD copy. These have proven invaluable in preventing data loss (so far no critical data loss for any of my ongoing customers).

Whenever possible (nearly always), entries were made in a (file,) web (or wiki) site hosted on the computer, and backed up/printed to the 3-ring binder whenever I visit. This has proven economical (time and money) to keep up to date, and persisent (still readable decades later).

My latest car, now has the same CD copy, and (MoinMoin) wiki site (hosted on car owner’s separate laptop). Though half a year is too early to judge accurately, syncronization cost (car -> laptop) has been too high, but decreasing with experience. Mods made to the car, reflected in word-level copy-and-edits (pdftk+emacs) to the pdf service manual, took too much time.

To save time, I plan for the next mod, to simply add a white rectangle (to hide obsolete info) and copy-with-changes on top, the electronic equivalent of aviation-style (Form FAA-337) which may prove sufficiently economical.