Your car's cooling system is designed to operate under about 20 pounds per square inch of pressure. The radiator cap is intended to keep the system at that pressure, but a leaking seal or weak spring can cause it to fail, creating the potential for an overheated engine. Be sure this vital part is included in your regular checkups.
Check your anti-freeze/coolant level weekly. Newer cars have see-through reservoirs with level markings. Top off with 50/50 solution of permanent anti-freeze and water. CAUTION: Do not remove the pressure cap when engine is hot.
Nine out of ten vehicles taken through routine maintenance inspections require some kind of maintenance. More than one out of four vehicles failed inspection because they needed engine oil, coolant, or a new air filter. One out of five had low or dirty transmission fluid. How long has it been since you had your car checked?
Inspects belts monthly. Replace worn, glazed or frayed belts; tighten them when they have more than 1/2" of slack when depressed between the pulleys. Replace bulging or rotten hoses and tighten clamps.
If you need to replace your battery before cold weather, buy the best you can afford. Your two key ratings are Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), which indicates starting power, and Reserve Capacity, which tells how long the battery will operate with the charging system out of order.
Check transmission fluid with the engine warm and running, parking brake on. Shift to Drive, then to Park. Remove dipstick, wipe dry, insert and pull it out again. Add fluid if needed. Do Not Overfill!
A neglected engine pollutes our atmosphere. Among the principle offenders are dirty air filters and worn spark plugs. Is your car environmentally responsible? Have it checked now.
Check the air filter every month or two. Replace it when it's dirty or as part of a tune-up. It's easy to reach, right under the big metal lid.
90% of all driving decisions are based on vision, but 20% of windshield wipers and washer systems have been found deficient upon inspection. Have you checked yours lately? And how about your lights?
Check brake fluid monthly. First wipe dirt from around the brake master cylinder reservoir lid. Pry off the retaining clips and remove the lid. If you need fluid add the approved type and check for possible leaks.
When buying "all-weather" or snow tires, the Car Care Council suggests having them installed on all four wheels. This provides even traction all the way around and gives you top notch steering and stopping.
Low engine oil is a common deficiency found in routine inspections. Sometimes we're too anxious to gas up, pay up, and be on our way, seldom taking time to look under the hood. Check your oil regularly, but always wait until the vehicle has set for a few minutes.
Keep windshield washer reservoir full. When topping off, use some solvent on a rag to clean off the wiper blades.
Maybe they ought to change the term 'glove compartment' to 'warranty file'...it is a logical place to keep warranties for your tires, battery, exhaust system and other replacement items. Tip: be sure to ask for your warranty papers when having repair work done.
Check the battery monthly in cold weather, weekly in hot weather and daily on long trips. Make sure the cables are attached securely and free of corrosion. Check fluid level. If yours has filler holes add water as needed. Note: Do not smoke or light a match near a battery.
Have you ever begun to check your tire pressure only to realize you forgot what the correct pressure is supposed to be? Look on the door jamb. On most vehicles you'll find a sticker with that information listed.
Inspect windshield wiper blades whenever you clean your windshield. Do not wait until rubber is worn or brittle to replace them. Wiper blades should be replaced at least once a year, more often if smearing or chattering occurs.
The most common reason motorists call for emergency road service in cold weather is that their cars won't start. But, contrary to popular opinion, it's not always because of a dead battery. The battery often is the innocent victim of other systems, such as fuel or ignition. You can drain an otherwise healthy battery by grinding away at the starter in vain. Have your vehicle checked over to avoid being stranded in the cold.
Keep tires inflated to recommended pressure (it helps to own your own guage). Check for cuts, bulges and excessive tread wear. Uneven wear indicates misalignment or out-of-balance.
If the term "wheel alignment" mystifies you, think about one of those supermarket shopping carts whose wheels wiggle and fight you as you make your rounds. In a similar way, misaligned wheels on your car also hamper steering and require extra power. Now is a good time to have your wheel alignment checked.
Look for signs of oil seepage on shock absorbers. Test shock action by bouncing car up and down. The car should stop bouncing when you step back. Worn or leaking shocks should be replaced; always replace in pairs.
Among the various fluids that need to be checked on your car, transmission fluid is one of the most overlooked. Neglecting this critical fluid ... and the filter that's in the system ... could cost you a major auto repair bill.
Whenever you have your vehicle on the lift for service or repairs, take a look at the rubber boots that cover the CV joints ... or have a technician inspect them for leaks. A boot that leaks lubricant eventually will cause failure of the joint. Now is a good time to give your vehicle a thorough once-over.
Don't send your tires to an early grave. Maintain them with these inexpensive tips from the Car Care Council: keep them accurately inflated and properly balanced, and keep your wheels correctly aligned.