Complete car care – Performing routine transmission inspection is important to keep a vehicle in top running condition. Operating a vehicle with low fluid levels can cause serious damage to vehicle components. Driving a car will low tire pressure or damaged tires can cause an unsafe driving condition with an increased chance of a blowout. To help prevent costly repairs as well as unsafe driving conditions, routine comprehensive vehicle inspection or complete car care should be performed.
Under the Hood Vehicle Checks
The majority of complete car care is performed under the hood. Checking fluid levels and visual checks of engine components are all done under the hood of the vehicle. One of the best methods of complete car care checks is when the car is filled with fuel. The following checks can usually be performed while the vehicle is filling up.
Checking the Engine Oil Level
The engine oil level should be checked on a level surface when the engine is warmed up and the engine is not running. Pull out the oil level indicator or dipstick from the metal tube. Wipe off the oil from the indicator with a clean rag or paper towel and reinsert indicator in the tube.
Pull out the oil level indicator a second time and ensure the engine oil is between the marks on the indicator. If the oil is below the bottom mark, add a quart of engine oil and recheck the indicator. To add engine oil remove the oil cap (usually marked “oil”) normally found on the engine valve cover. It’s important to add the proper oil weight and classification.
Checking the Automatic Transmission Inspection Fluid Level
When checking the automatic transmission inspection in complete car care, the vehicle should also be on a level surface but the engine needs to be running. The transmission inspection indicator is usually similar in design to the engine oil indicator. Use the same procedure for checking the transmission inspection fluid level as checking the engine oil level. If transmission fluid is needed, ensure that the proper transmission fluid is used for the vehicle. Transmission inspection fluid is normally added through the indicator tube.
Other Under the Hood Inspections and Checks
Coolant or antifreeze level in most modern cars can be checked by visually examining the coolant recovery tank. The tank is normally transparent with a level mark on the outside of the tank.
Brake fluid level, like the coolant level in most modern cars, is transparent and can be visually inspected.
Power steering fluid level usually has an indicator built into the cap on the power steering reservoir. Simply remove the cap and look at the fluid on the indicator.
Visually inspect all hoses for leaks and serpentine belts for cracks in complete car care.
Besides checking under the hood for proper fluid levels, routine vehicle maintenance is also important to keep the vehicle in top running condition. When vehicle maintenance is performed, a trained automotive technician should perform a comprehensive under car inspection. To ensure safe driving conditions, brakes and tires should also be inspected as a routine.
Vehicle Manual for Basic Maintenance
Owner’s Manuals contain useful information about vehicle care. Properly maintained vehicles maximize gas mileage and have fewer problems. They give information about how and when to check fluids, what fluids to use, and scheduled service. If a car is missing an Owner’s Manual the easiest way to get a replacement is to see the dealer. Manuals for older vehicles can be ordered online at Helm Incorporated and Carmanuals.com. Chilton’s and Haynes repair manuals contain much of the same information as the owner’s manuals.
Cars and trucks run on fuel, but fuel isn’t all they need to operate. Cars also need oil, transmission inspection fluid, coolant (antifreeze), and other fluids detailed in the manual. Engine oil and washer fluid are checked after each tank of fuel. Transmission inspection and other fluids are checked monthly. When fluids are low, the manual specifies what type of fluids to use and the filling procedures. Using the wrong type can damage the vehicle.
How to Check Engine OIl
Engine oil level should be checked when the engine is cold. The best time to check engine oil is first thing in the morning before the car is started, for the most accurate reading.
Locate the dipstick. These usually have a loop or small t-handle and often colored yellow on newer cars.
Carefully remove the dipstick from its tube, as there may be oil on it which stains clothing.
Wipe off the dipstick, and reinsert it all the way into the tube.
Pull the dipstick back out and read the level. The level of the oil should fall in the area shown in the owner’s manual.
How to Check Transmission Fluid
Automatic transmissions are checked while the engine is running with the transmission in PARK. Transmission checks follow the procedures for checking engine oil, but the dipsticks are generally red. Owners should take care to avoid burns, and ensure they do not catch clothing on moving parts. Manual transmissions don’t usually have a dipstick. Have a mechanic check manual transmissions during scheduled maintenance.
How to Check Antifreeze Levels
To check coolant levels, locate the tank. The coolant level can be seen through plastic tanks, and markings indicate a proper level. In vehicles without plastic tanks, consult the manual. The car should be cold when opening cooling system caps to prevent burns.
Checking Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is checked with a tire pressure gage, available at parts stores. Tire shops frequently offer free inflation checks. The proper pressure for your tires is stamped on the tire. Over-inflating tires may cause tires to explode, while under-inflated tires cause poor gas mileage and handling.
Lights and Gages
The vehicle’s dashboard has gages and warning lights that indicate problems. Lights come on briefly when the car is started, then should go out. When a warning light remains on after starting or comes on while driving, have the vehicle checked immediately to avoid engine damage. The temperature gauge should not climb higher than the middle of the gage during operation. The check engine light shows that the car’s computer senses a problem. Many auto parts stores will be able to read the check engine codes from the computer. If the parts store is unable to read the code, check with a qualified mechanic.
Every vehicle has a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. This schedule tells when certain checks are needed to keep the vehicle running properly. Drivers should keep track of the interval to avoid expensive repairs. When service time comes, have a qualified shop look over the manual to ensure necessary checks are performed.
Every vehicle benefits from the simple checks described in the owner’s manuals. A properly maintained vehicle requires fewer repairs and gets better fuel economy. Basic maintenance is something every driver can accomplish themselves.
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