Regular Vehicle Checks List
December 16, 2013 at 9:30 AM
One of the most important aspects of safe driving is keeping up with the regular maintenance of your car.
Preventative maintenance is important and can prevent costly repairs in the future, so it should never be ignored.
How do you know what needs to be done and when?
Get a List of Recommended Maintenance From your Dealer
If you have recently purchased a new vehicle, the Dealership will have your details in their system. They will contact you to make regular appointments for service on your vehicle, based on the mileage. You should be able to get a print out of recommended mileage for older vehicles, so that you still know what maintenance should be performed. If you have bought a vehicle privately, your mechanic will also be able to advise you on what needs to be attended to, as part of your regular maintenance.
An oil change should be performed on your car, according to the recommendations in your car’s owner manual. If you are not handy with this kind of thing, you can take your car to a mechanic where they will change the oil for you, generally as part of your regular service. These garages will add your details to their system, so that you will know when you need to return for another oil change. When your oil is changed, you will also have the oil filter replaced at the same time. Old and dirty oil breaks down and loses its viscosity, which can cause a lot of wear and tear on your motor. Don’t be afraid to pop the bonnet and take a look at the oil. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it off and dip it in again. Take a close look at the level of the oil, as well as the colour. If the oil is dark and low, it’s a good idea to get it changed right away.
Read the Owner’s Manual
What kind of fuel does the manual recommend that you put in your car? Many people opt for the cheap gas, a lower octane, but for the sake of a few dollars you may be causing unnecessary damage to your engine and cause it to knock and ping. If your vehicle is running roughly, consider using a higher octane fuel to see if it corrects the problem. The owner’s manual should also specify what kind of oil you should be using – very important!
Give your Vehicle the Once Over
One aspect of safe driving is to complete a regular check around your vehicle. Do all of your indicator, brake and reverse lights work? Check the headlights, brake lights and indicators to make sure they are all functioning. If your brake lights are not working, you could be at fault in a car accident if you are rear-ended!
There are plenty of ways to save fuel when you drive and preventative maintenance is a big part of fuel economy. Check your tyre pressure regularly to ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. If there is not enough pressure, it can cause you to use up a lot of fuel. Believe it or not, a clean air filter is equally important for fuel economy, so make sure this is changed when your oil is changed, if you tend to drive in a lot of traffic.
Have your tyres rotated and balanced every six months
By rotating your tyres and having them balanced, you will ensure that they last much longer and wear evenly. Uneven wear can cause damage to your vehicle and create problems with alignment and steering.
How are those wipers?
Windscreen wipers have rubber blades that harden over time. If your wipers are no longer wiping the windshield properly, change them to ensure you have clear visibility. A clear view through the windscreen is obviously important and will help you with safe driving. When you notice that your wipers are no longer cleaning the windscreen, it is time to replace them.
Check Engine Light is On
One thing you should take a look at if your check engine light is on, is your gas cap. Many new vehicles have venting sensors in the petrol tank, so if the “check engine” light comes on and stays on, your petrol cap may not be closed properly. Check this first, and if that does not do the trick you may need to see a mechanic.
When Winter Approaches
As the weather turns colder, you should consider some important maintenance for safe driving, including swapping your tyres, adding antifreeze (if the temperature is going to get quite cold) and ensuring that you have emergency supplies in the boot.
Not sure what to do or when?
Many people want to take the best care of their vehicle, but they are not sure about what steps need to be taken. If you have a smart phone or a tablet, you can download a wide variety of apps that can help you to keep tabs on what needs to be done and when.
Your vehicle’s owner manual will have a list of preventative maintenance items that need to be performed and at what mileage intervals they should be completed. Don’t ignore preventative maintenance! It helps your vehicle to run more efficiently and when you or someone else has a look at your car on a regular basis, you are more likely to find any issues before they become serious.
Here is a basic maintenance checklist for your vehicle:
- Monthly – check tyre pressure, oil level and coolant level.
- Every 10,000 km – change oil and replace oil filter, check windscreen washer fluid.
- Every six months – check power steering fluid level, detail vehicle with wax to extend paint life and prevent rust.
- Every 15,000 km – rotate tyres; inspect belts (serpentine, timing, etc.).
- Every Year – check brake fluid, battery connections, coolant, flush radiator, rinse off air conditioner condenser, clean battery connections and inspect brakes.
- Every 50,000 km – change spark plugs (if needed), replace oxygen sensors, clean throttle body, change transmission fluid, replace cap and rotor, inspect spark plug wires, replace PCV valve.
- Every 48 months – check battery, flush coolant system.
- Every 60,000 km – replace fuel filter.
- Every 60,000 km – inspect brakes, replace air filter, replace timing belt, inspect front end alignment and change automatic transmission fluid.
Your owner’s manual is an important part of maintenance! Make sure you read it from cover to cover to see exactly what the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle. Part of safe driving is vehicle maintenance – you want to know that you can rely on your vehicle to stop when needed and not to break down before you arrive at your destination.