Car maintenance tips
Just about everyone knows to check their oil regularly. Here are some less-common maintenance checks that might not be on your radar, but should be:
1. Most people occasionally check tire pressure, but completely ignore the spare – as will mechanics unless you ask. All pneumatic tires lose pressure over time. After a few years of neglect, the high-pressure compact spare is typically underinflated, sometimes dangerously so, if ever required.
2. Check all lights. Don’t let a broken bulb lead to a collision.
3. Check battery “eye” if equipped. Some batteries have an “eye” to visually indicate charge condition. Any colour besides green means trouble. But note that green can also be a false positive where battery output only becomes insufficient under load due to bad cell.
4. Check coolant level and condition. If discoloured or foul smelling, a flush-and-fill may be due. An inexpensive coolant tester (syringe) can verify freeze-up/boil over protection.
5. Visually check air-con “eye.” Bubbles in the A/C sight-glass indicate low refrigerant, and oil streaks spell trouble. Watch for refrigerant flow to avoid confusing a completely discharged A/C system for a full one.
6. Clean debris from fins of radiator, air-con condenser and power steering cooler, if equipped. Obstructed airflow can lead to overheating of these systems.
7. Pull out tranny dipstick and sniff it. Really. Fluid should be clear, bright red, and have no burnt odour – which indicates overheating. Check fluid level while engine is running. (Of course, it’s also good to check oil, brake, power steering and washer fluid levels.)
8. Visually inspect tires. That is, look at them once in awhile. Uneven tread wear, bald tires, or damage to sidewalls or tread require attention. A nail in the tread can typically be mended if caught early (i.e. tire looks unusually low), but can lead to a high-speed blowout if ignored.
9. Check jack and spare. Don’t find out at roadside that the jack is missing in your used car, or that you need special tools (e.g. for wheel locks). In my old Jeep, some fasteners were mixed up at the factory so the spare couldn’t be removed without a wrench. Fortunately, I discovered and corrected this problem at home – where I had access to the right tool – rather than on the road in the middle of nowhere.
10. Lift foot mats in an older car and inspect floor. Salt water running off your shoes in wintertime can pool beneath mats and corrode metal. Holes in the floorboard will allow potentially deadly exhaust fumes to enter vehicle.
Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X