Vehicle Maintenance Log: Why You Should Have One In Your Car {Updated With Free Printables}

A vehicle maintenance log, also known as an auto maintenance log book, is a handy little thing to put in the glove compartment of your car, to keep with you at all times.

how and why to use a vehicle maintenance log for your cars
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It can be your "brain" for your car, to keep track of the maintenance that has been done previously, which helps you know what maintenance needs to be done in the future.

Car Maintenance Is Important

Everyone knows that taking care of your car is important.

Cars cost a lot of money and preventative maintenance is cheaper in the long run, keeps the vehicle running smoothly and efficiently, and also helps you from being stranded on the side of the road with wailing, hungry children.

Car Maintenance Can Be Hard To Keep Track Of

Preventative car maintenance, such as tire rotation, changing the oil, and checking fluids and tire pressure, can also be hard to remember to do.

They are not items that need to be done everyday, but only every couple of months, hopefully.

And, if you are anything like me, I forget what happened two days ago much less three months ago regarding the car.

In the past I was constantly trying to remember the last time I got the tires rotated, or changed the oil, etc.

This was especially embarrassing when I would have a car problem and the mechanic would ask when I last changed my timing belt, or some other car part and I would look at him blankly.

Keeping A Vehicle Maintenance Log Solves The Problem Of Trying To Remember

So, who of course came to my rescue?

My wonderful Dad. (Hi Dad!)

You see, he has been telling me to keep a vehicle maintenance log in my car since before I ever got my drivers license, but I kept thinking it was too much trouble.

But then my family spent our hard earned money on a minivan to be able to haul around all our children at once, and all of a sudden taking care of this big investment seemed much more important to me.

And so, I started keeping a vehicle maintenance log in my glove compartment of the mini-van. And it is so easy I wish I had done it sooner!

Setting Up Your Vehicle Maintenance Log

auto maintenance log book

A car maintenance log consists of a cheap small spiral bound notebook, or something more fancy if you wish.

***Update: After many requests I have created a printable version of this log book you can use, along with these instructions below for making your own log book. ***

Get a notebook small enough to easily fit in your glove compartment.

Once you have your notebook, stick a pen inside the spiral rings, or otherwise attach a pen to the notebook, that you will use every time you need to write something in it.

You see, you write in your vehicle maintenance log while you are in the car, as soon as you get maintenance done to your car, so you get it out of your brain and onto the paper right then.

It is part of the Do It Now Principle.

Now, that is all the set up necessary for your car maintenance log.

What To Put In Your Vehicle Maintenance Log

I divide the auto maintenance log book into two sections, a gas mileage section and a maintenance section.

I put the gas mileage section at the beginning of the log, because it will be filled out more often and the entries are shorter.

On the first page of your small notebook make the following columns, in this order:

  • Date
  • Price per gallon
  • Gallons (this is where you say how many gallons of gas you purchased)
  • Paid (this is where you tell the total amount you paid for gas)
  • Trip mileage (miles driven since the last time you bought gas)
  • Total mileage

You will have to write small to fit in all the columns, but this is what you fill out every time that you get gas.

This data helps you figure out your car's gas mileage, and how much you are spending on gas, which I think are two helpful and important pieces of information.

My kids know when Mommy stops to get gas at the end of the fill up I fill out this information in a row in my vehicle maintenance log before we drive away.

Here's the printable version of the gas mileage chart for you:

Gas mileage log
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Click here for free printable
(opens into new window as PDF)

The second part of the notebook contains the actual maintenance log in it. I start this on the last page, and add my entries going the opposite direction, meaning I flip to the left instead of to the right as I progress forward in time.

For this section make the following columns, in this order:

  • Date
  • Maintenance done
  • Shop (this is where you say who performed the maintenance work, which can be helpful if you need follow up or warranty work done in the future, for example)
  • Paid (list the amount paid, which when you look back at this for a year's time, for example, will help you know how much you are spending in maintenance for your vehicle)
  • Comments (where you provide any additional relevant information)

The maintenance part of the notebook will take more space per entry than the gas mileage section, but that is OK. You need to write as much down as you need to be able to remember all the important details later.

I generally do this as soon as I pick up my car from getting maintenance work done. I sit in the parking lot for a moment and fill out the vehicle maintenance log before life happens and I forget to do it later.

Again, this is part of the Do It Now Principle.

Here's the printable version of the maintenance part of the chart for you:

printable vehicle maintenance log
use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Click here for free printable
(opens into new window as PDF)

When the entries from the gas mileage section and maintenance section meet, then it is time to retire that notebook and get another one. This happens after a couple of years generally, not very often at all.

Recommended Car Maintenance Logs

If you don't want to use the printables provided, or make your own, here's some pre-made books you can purchase:


Like I said, I kick myself now for not doing this with some of my older cars because it is really simple to keep track of my car's maintenance this way, and it doesn't seem to take any time at all.

As usual, father knows best!

I hope this helps you get motivated to make a vehicle maintenance log of your own.

Reader Spotlight: Christina's Auto Maintenance Log

A reader, Christina, sent in this photo of her maintenance log once she'd read this article. She explained, "I've kept a maintenance log since my first car. Every fill up, tire pressure, oil change and car wash is documented."

Looks great Christina!

Christina's vehicle maintenance log

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