Regular Car Checks That Help You Keep Your Car On The Road
With regular car checks and regular vehicle inspections you can add years to the life of your car. Treating your car well and using simple DIY car maintenance can have a huge effect on your vehicles overall performance and longevity.
Vehicles for most of us have become necessities. Without a vehicle to drive us, it makes life and transporting ourselves to different places more difficult. It can be stressful having to wait on someone else to drive you somewhere.
Now, more than ever, your vehicle’s maintenance is crucial. Replacement parts can become costly and so can the labor for replacing those parts. That’s why I have included 15 car checking tips that can help you to avoid that trip to the auto shop. Helping you keep your car running smoothly for longer periods of time.
10 Things To check That can Make Your Car Last Longer
There are simple things to check on your vehicle before and after you start it that anyone can do. When should you perform these checks? Every other gas fill, it’s important to check things like oil and transmission fluid to keep up with vehicle stability and durability.
However, regardless of how much you inspect your car; to keep your vehicle running smoothly it’s important to have a transmission service done on your vehicle whether it’s just a filter change or a flush about. every 40,000 miles or so. So lets take a look at the check list and then I will explain them to you. (If you don’t already know.)
Car Checklist # 1-15
Under The Hood #1-10, Car Exterior#12-14, Behind Tires #15
- Oil filter
- Air filter
- Power Steering Fluid
- Transmission Fluid –> (Car must be warmed up to check Tran. Fluid)
- Light systems
- Tire Pressure (They can fluctuate with hot or cold temperatures.)
What If I Don’t Know Where These Are To Check On My Vehicle
I will help you as much as I can to find the answers you need. Not everyone drives the same thing but if you have your vehicle manual or the internet then you can find the answers you seek. With each thing to check I will include why it’s important and how to find it no matter what you drive.
This should go without saying, but I will include it anyway. *Free tip* – Always make sure your vehicle has gas in the gas tank before driving or it won’t start.
Under The Hood Of The Vehicle
1.) Oil – How do I check it and why?
Oil and gas are to a vehicle what our water and blood is to us. It’s the life force of your vehicle. Without which your car could have to replace a motor or worse have to buy a new car. So check out this great video on how to check your engines fluids easy:
If you’re still not sure, don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help. You are going to need a clean rag or two or several paper towels for checking any engine fluids. (You may need to wipe the fluid off of your hands also.)
- Locate dipstick.
- Pull out dipstick and wipe it off with a clean rag or paper towel.
- Then re-insert and pull it back out.
- The dipstick should have a measuring tool etched on it with either 2 cross marks -aka- “hatch marks” or 2 dots for measuring the amount of oil. Look to see where the oil comes up to on the measuring dipstick and check the color (be careful not to accidently wipe it off before measuring – If you do, wipe stick fully off and re-insert to start over and follow steps..)
- The oil should come up to the highest mark on the dipstick and somewhat transparent in color. (Thick black oil means it’s old and should probably be replaced.) There’s a safe zone in-between the two marks on the dipstick that means you should put more oil in soon but your okay for now. Though you really should not wait too long or it could cause problems.
2. Oil Filter – How do I check it and why?
Your oil filter keeps impurities out of the oil that would cause harm to your engine making important components malfunction that are vital to your car functioning properly. Kept fresh by changing every oil change is important.. This needs to be replaced using a special tool so I would suggest a professional do that. All you need to know about the filter you find out when you check the actual oil If your oil level and color are fine, then your filter is also good. However, if the oil is thick and black then both the oil and the filter need to be replaced soon before there’s damage.
3. Air Filter – How do I check it and why?
The air filter can be located just under your hood. They are easy to find and should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Even sooner if you drive much in dusty climates. Without oxygen to your engine there can be no fire and fire and oxygen help propel your vehicle into movement. Some signs that your air filter has gone bad are:
- Reduced fuel economy (Your car doesn’t travel as far on a tank of a gas as it used to.)
- Reduced Horsepower (Going uphill you have to use more gas than normal to keep speed.)
- A “Check Engine” Light coming on.
- Smelling gasoline when you start up your vehicle.
- Dark sooty smoke or flames coming from your tailpipe.
- Hearing unusual engine sounds
Just to name a few. This is usually the first check engine light to come on with a newer car. To find and replace your car’s air filter check out this short video :
4. Power steering fluid – How to check it and what it is for.
The power steering fluid makes it easier to turn your wheel while driving. It’s an assist and if it ever goes out you you can still turn your wheel but it’s going to take enormous strength. So you’ll have to put your back into it.
Most modern cars have it now and has been there since the 50’sand 60’s. To find and check your power steering fluid take a look at the video in #1 for checking your oil because it covers all engine fluids you need to check.
5. Coolant – How to check and fill your coolant
This fluid runs through the radiator and prevents your engine from overheating and breaking down. This is not a fluid you want to go without or you could end up stranded. To check coolant you need to make sure your engine has been resting and is cooled off <<* Do Not Open Hot*>> There is a serious risk of burns or injury if your not careful to let the engine cool before checking. Top check:
- Find your radiator under the hood (should be against the grill just behind front of the car.
- Remove the radiator cap.
- Make sure it is sufficiently full.
- If not fill up
6. Transmission Fluid – How to check and fill.
This fluid leads to the pump and without the pump the car doesn’t move. Always make sure this fluid is at full and fresh if you want your car to last longer in the long run. The first video on #1 Will show you how to check all fluids but if this is the only one you’re checking then here is a special video just for the transmission fluid. << Make sure car is warmed up before checking>> *Only fluid that requires this*
Exterior Car Checks
7. The Lights – Which ones and what you should check for?
The lights are very important and include :
- The headlights.
- The brake lights.
- The Tail lights.
- The turn signals.
- The emergency lights.
You are looking for function so you need to check each one, one at a time to make sure they are turning on properly.
- Turn the key in the ignition into accessory mode by turning the key and not having the car start up. You are now using the battery so when finished checking make sure you turn off the car properly or you could wake up to a dead battery.
- Next test each lighting system starting with turning on your headlights. Now you need to actually step outside your vehicle to check if they are on and working right or have someone else look for you while you make sure they all work properly turning each one on and off.. <<remember to leave the vehicle in park if you must step outside and use the lights reflection off of the road or garage if you don’t have somebody with you.>>
- Now try out your brake lights by gently pressing the brake in.
- Now try the blinkers one at a time and then the Emergency Lights.
If one or more system is not working, there are a number of videos on how to replace different light systems on your car. You can not drive a car without all of these light systems working properly or you could end up getting a ticket by a police officer or getting into a wreck. Your car needs them all for safety and inspections.
Unfortunately lighting systems vary and the best way to learn how to replace one is by going on Youtube.com or Google search and putting in your make and model of your vehicle and what system need fixed, and either watch or read a tutorial on how to change or replace the lights you need fixed. Check out any tips or tricks too that could help you along the way..
8. Tires- What you need to check and why
Your tires are the only thing between your car and the road. I cannot stress the importance of a good tire enough. If anything is wrong with them parking your car until your able to replace or fix them is best. You can normally feel if something is wrong while your driving but it’s better to check before you start. There are three checks for your tires that you can do easily.
- Check each tire’s tread to make sure it’s not too thin and that the tire does not look flat or flatter than the rest of the others.
- Taking your hand and putting it flat along the wall of the tire move your hand around the tire and check for any bumps or protruding pieces of rock or glass<< without cutting yourself.>>
9. Tire Pressure – how do I check it and fill air up if needed?
Without the right tire pressure you could suffer a blow out or a flat tire while driving which could be very dangerous. Safety should always be first when it comes to your vehicle. Too much air and your tire could explode. Too little air and you could go flat.
- Check your manual or manufacturers recommendations for what tire pressure you should have and use a tire pressure checker to see if each tire is in range of that or if it needs more air. If you do not have one they are relatively cheap and be bought at any auto store and are available at most gas stations at the air pump but I would recommend owning your own in case a gas station is dangerous to get to or you can’t get to one for whatever reason.
- There is a little protruding tube on every tire with a cap on it. This is where you will check.
- Unscrew the cap and and place the pressure checker properly into the tube and it should give you the amount of psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure in the tires.
- Make sure the pressure is where it needs to be and if not fill up some air inserting the air pump piece into the tire the same way you checked it or letting some out by only halfway putting the air pump nozzle in to let some air out.
Brake Check While Driving
10. Brakes – How to check and replace if needed
One of the easiest ways to check your brakes is while you are driving. If you find it’s getting hard to stop or they are shrieking when you go to stop, you probably need to change the brake pads. If the car is now vibrating as you try to stop then you might need to replace the calipers too.
To replace these YouTube and Google can help because it matters what you drive and whether or not you have all wheel drive or front wheel drive.