Your car is perhaps one of your most lavish purchases alongside your home, so you have a vested in keeping it in excellent working order. However, for most people, this simply means taking it to the garage every once in a while for a checkup, getting a stamp in the log book, and calling it a day.
While this is satisfactory in a rudimentary sense, it can yield better results if you take a more proactive stance. In reality, by regularly inspecting your vehicle for defects and wear and tear, you can save some serious money in the long run (after all, a stitch in time saves nine and all that!) Nevertheless, the question remains: What parts should you actually check at certain intervals, and what exactly are you checking for?
This post will explore this question, giving you the information you need to ensure that you can spot problems early and nip them in the bud before they become more serious issues.
Test All Exterior Lights
While nobody is expecting you to take apart your gearbox, a quick check you can perform that will keep you safe and avoid getting pulled over by the police is ensuring your exterior lights are in working order. To do this, you might have to enlist the help of a friend in order to check the brake lights, but all of the other lights can be checked on your own.
Moreover, this is one of the most straightforward issues to remedy if you do find anything wrong. If there is a light out, you can head over to an aftermarket specialist, LoboZean, and those similar to find your make and model and get the light delivered to your home, where you can initiate the repair. In addition, you can use these services for almost every other part of this post, potentially saving you a large chunk of change.
Even if you don’t have the requisite knowledge or tools to replace the light yourself and need to take it into a garage, you will lower the cost by purchasing the parts in advance and then only paying the labor costs.
Inspect Brake Pads For Wear
If there is one thing you want to work on, it’s your brakes! However, because they are typically hidden away, almost all drivers tend to conveniently ignore checking them. Nonetheless, all it takes is a flashlight and a few minutes each month to ensure you’re risking your life and those of other road users. Vehicles on the more affordable end of the spectrum will probably only use disc brakes on the front wheels, making the task even shorter.
However, it’s wise to double-check rather than assume. All you need to do is take out your light, take a peek through your wheels, and see if there is enough padding still on the pads. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can head over to YouTube, which has many great tutorials for this and other checks to make.
Check Oil And Fluid Levels
Now, we get to the check that can have the most impact for the least amount of effort. Vehicle fluids are the bulwark between a car that runs smoothly and efficiently and one that rattles itself to death, causing you to shell out an inordinate amount of money for a new gearbox or motor of some description. Again, this is one of those activities that too many car owners ignore, but it is far easier than you think. There are different fluids to check, but they all tend to be located underneath the bonnet:
- Oil: To check your oil levels, you will need to locate the dipstick, which will be indicated by an oil symbol. If you’re unsure, just look for a yellow plastic loop that you can get your finger through and pull it out slowly. You should ensure the oil is in between the indicators at the end of the metal stick. Moreover, see what color the oil is. If it’s jet black, it might be time to replace it.
- Coolant: This fluid is vital for keeping the moving parts within their correct operating temperature. Checking your car’s coolant can be a bit different depending on the type of vehicle you have. For those with a coolant expansion tank, the first step is to eyeball it. You’re looking for that sweet spot between “minimum” and “maximum”. If you don’t see that balance, move on to checking under the radiator cap. Is there enough fluid right up to its brim? If not, top it up with the coolant recommended by the manufacturer. NEVER open the coolant cap when the engine is hot.
- Power steering fluid: To do this, look for either a dipstick or reservoir in the engine bay – removing the dipstick or checking markings on the reservoir will indicate if you need more fluid. Be sure to use only fluids recommended by your vehicle manufacturer; using anything else can cause damage.
- Brake fluid: You can check this easily by turning on your car and depressing the brakes. If they feel snappy and normal, things are fine. If something feels awry, you might need to top up the fluid.
- Windshield washer fluid: This might not seem as important as other fluids, but it can mean the difference between seeing out of your windshield and not, so it is pretty vital! Look for the washer reservoir and top it up with water mixed with windshield cleaning solution. Windshields are frequently coated with grease and other debris that can not be removed with water alone.
Examine The Battery And Cables
While you have your hood open, take a quick look at your battery and check for corrosion and other issues. The battery should be in good condition and free from anything that might cause it to short and damage other components of the car.
Verify The Condition Of Tires
The final and perhaps least challenging task is ensuring your tires have enough tread. The tread is essential when it rains to allow the water to pass through the channels and help you avoid the dreaded aquaplaning that is the cause of so many accidents. You can purchase a cheap measuring tool from Amazon or any supermarket in the auto section, indicating how much you have and if you need to change your tires.
Not only is your ar a significant investment you want to keep in great condition, but the safety of yourself and other road users depends on keeping it in tip-top shape. A monthly check of the components mentioned in this post does not require an expert’s eye but can save a lot of trouble and money in the long run.