By Steve and Tracy Junker

No one wants to hold onto a lot of useless paperwork. What should we keep when we have work done on our vehicles or when we do it ourselves? Here are some simple tips that will help identify what you should keep and for how long.

To keep your vehicle records available to you, all you need is a small notebook and a folder. Use the notebook to keep track of things like oil changes, tire rotations, maintenance, and repairs you make.

Use your mileage and the number of gallons to calculate how many miles per gallon the vehicle is averaging (mpg). Tracking fuel consumption one month each year will help you identify if your vehicle is starting to use more fuel. If your mpg is decreasing, routine maintenance or other service may be needed to get your vehicle running at its best again.

Use a folder to keep track of invoices and receipts in case you need to make a warranty claim, and any major repairs. The shop you use might also give you a label or papers that you will also need in case a warranty claim is necessary. Just slip everything into the folder with the warranty. Note the date of the repair and the length of the warranty on the outside of the folder for easy reference.

While keeping the notebook in the vehicle will keep it handy for the simple things, keep the folder in a safe place so the warranties do not get lost. A short note in the notebook about the work that was done, the date of the work and the length of the warranty can be helpful.

Keeping these simple records will help you save money and give you a clearer picture of the long term condition of your vehicle. It can also make it easier to sell the vehicle later as buyers like to know what work has been done and to see that the vehicle has been well maintained. When you shop for a used vehicle, ask for maintenance records and about any other work that has been done, to protect yourself from purchasing a vehicle that has not been well-maintained and will soon need a lot of expensive repairs.

Rely on Chilton for manufacturer-recommended maintenance specifications and schedules, technical service bulletins (TSBs), and service and repair procedures. For more than 100 years, Chilton has been a trusted source of automotive information, check out

Steve and Tracy Junker are a husband and wife automotive editorial team with approximately 50 years automotive experience combined. Steve is an ASE L1 Master Technician. They continue to work on their own and family and friends' vehicles because they still enjoy the challenge.