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A vehicle maintenance log is a journal of all maintenance performed on a particular vehicle. Each entry includes a date, mileage as of that day, details about the type of work done, and who performed the service. The maintenance log might also include receipts and a schedule for further maintenance.
One of the most common reasons to keep a vehicle maintenance log is for a leased car to show that you have honored your end of the lease contract by keeping up with standard maintenance on the vehicle at, or prior to, the manufacturer's suggested time intervals. A vehicle maintenance log will clearly show oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections or replacements and so on. At the time you return your vehicle from lease, you may be asked to prove that the car was maintained properly. The vehicle maintenance log will come in very handy.
Another common reason to keep a vehicle maintenance log is when using a company car. Often it is required in this case for tax purposes. Everything related to the car, short of using it for pleasure, is a write-off for the company. This includes gasoline and all maintenance. Therefore strict records are required. A vehicle maintenance log works perfectly.
Similarly, if using your private car for company business a portion of gasoline, mileage and maintenance might be tax deductible. Often, businesses will reimburse you instead, but in either case a vehicle maintenance log is required. Whenever the car is used for business purposes, starting and ending mileage must be noted and dated in the log.
However, a vehicle maintenance log is a good idea for anyone. It's easy to forget how long it's been since certain maintenance has been performed without a record. Again, a well maintained car is a safer car and can lead to saved money on repairs down the road. Also, proof that you have maintained your vehicle properly is very important to the next buyer and actually increases the value of the vehicle. It exudes an air of care and meticulousness, and a car that has been maintained is less likely to have or develop serious problems. Finally, when you do have to take the car in for repairs, it's handy for the technician to see the work that has already been done.
There are many ways to create a vehicle maintenance log either using a simple blank logbook or a spreadsheet in a program such as Excel. However there are also software programs like Automotive Wolf by Lonewolf Software that will not only keep track of your maintenance but will calculate your gas mileage for you and much more. Automotive Wolf also has an attractive "vehicle interface" that uses gauges to let you know when certain maintenance is due. This software and programs like it are modestly priced and free to try if downloaded off the Internet. If using software, it's a good idea to keep a simple spiral notepad in your glove compartment to jot down mileage and details that you can later enter into the software or spreadsheet. Some software-based vehicle maintenance logs are designed to run on Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs) so you can enter your information right from the drivers seat!
Whether you take the simple route of making your own log, or a fancier alternative, keeping a vehicle maintenance log is a smart move that can only work to your advantage!