Mechanics

Auto Maintenance and Service Procedure Instructions

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Car Care Service Procedures: Manufactures agree to perform a basic engine oil and oil filter change, along with basic car safety inspection and services. This service is due a number of miles after the initial purchase. As manufacturers warranties expire the responsibility of inspection and services are solely on the owner.

Change Engine Oil and Oil Filter - Locate the oil pan drain plug, some cars have a drain plug on the transmission, make sure you identify the proper plug. Position a oil drain pan below the oil pan drain plug, next loosen and remove the plug by turning it counter clockwise, used oil will flow from the oil pan until empty. Inspect the drain plug sealing washer and replace if necessary. Reinstall the oil drain plug and tighten. Next loosen the oil filter, you can do this with an oil filter wrench or a large set of pliers. When the oil filter is loosened a small mount of oil will leak from it, so use shop towels to minimize spillage. 

After the oil has finished draining remove the oil filter, inspect the oil filter sealing gasket, be sure it is on the old filter, if not it is still stuck to the engine block and needs to be removed. Next, clean the surface of the block, take a small amount of oil and apply it to the oil filter seal. Next reinstall the filter and tighten by hand. The work under the car is finished, now we can add the new motor oil to the engine. Most vehicle engines take four to five quarts, you should check your owners manual or check the level as you add to be sure the correct level is achieved. 

Remove the oil filter cap from the engine, most engine oil fill ports are marked with a yellow tag. Remove the oil filler cap and add the manufactures recommended engine oil. Be sure to recheck the oil level after the engine has been run and add if needed. Be sure to check under the car to make sure no leaks have occurred. Take your used oil and filter to a reclamation station in your area to dispose of properly.

Checking Fluid Levels - A car operates using a variety of fluids, engine oil, transmission fluid, either standards or automatic fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, front and rear differential fluids on some models. All fluids must be maintained at a proper level, while some are easily checked others will require a lift. First start with the vehicle in park on level ground, in cool condition with the engine off. Next, release the hood latch and lift the hood, the hood will only open slightly because all hoods have been designed with a secondary safety latch that must be activated before the hood will open completely. 

First check the engine oil level (if you are changing the engine oil, check the oil level after the oil change has been performed) This engine oil level dip stick is usually indicated by a yellow handle. There are two level indicator marks, upper level and lower level. The distance in between these marks represent a quart, if the oil is in between the marks the level is ok. If the oil level is below the lower level mark or not on the dip stick at all engine oil must be added until between the inductor lines.

Check and Replace Bake Pads - A vehicles brake pads wear out at different rates depending on design, driving habits, brake pad quality, stop and go traffic and freeway conditions, etc. A typical brake replacement will include a brake caliper, brake pads and brake rotor. Hydraulic pressure is supplied the brake caliper forcing the pads against the brake rotor causing friction to slow the vehicle. Most brake pads have some kind the sensing device that will warn you if the brake pads are getting low, either a brake light or a noise sensor the will make a high pitched squeal when the pads have worn down. 

After a brake service has been performed and the car is safety on level ground, recheck the brake peddle operation, this should be done with the car running and in park to aid the power brake system. Press the brake peddle up and allow to return and check proper brake peddle operation, if proper brake peddle operation not present further inspection is required (do not drive). As you first drive your car, start slow and test the brakes, listen for any sounds that are not normal. Observe the brake operation if any irregularities occur inspect the brake system immediately.

Car Safety Inspection - A vehicle inspection is necessary to find any malfunction caused by outside forces such as road debris or defective parts. Start by checking under the hood, inspect the cooling hoses, vacuum lines and multi rib drive belt for any obvious cracks or breaks and repair as needed. Next look for any fluid leaks and pin point there source for further repair procedure. Next, inspect under the vehicle to observe suspension components and drive line universal or ball joints, replace any components that exhibits excessive wear or torn lubrication boots. 

Also inspect for "rust dust" on any frame member, universal joints, sway bars, locating arms, strut rod mounting bolts and any other main frame or suspension components. This rust colored dust is created from metal on metal friction with no lubrication and is indication that the components has failed.

Shock Absorbers - Shocks and struts are used to control the vehicle, when a shock or strut fails it can cause the car tire to loose contact with the ground. When a car tire looses traction it can initiate a skid resulting in an accident. Inspecting and testing shock absorber wear and usage is relatively simple. To test the operation of your shocks start by parking your car on level ground. Then take one knee on the front or rear bumper, then lean into the car putting all our body weight on it, then release it. The car should pounce up and then stop, if the car continues to bounce the socks or strut are worn out and need to be replaced.

Safety Belt and Air Bag System - The safety systems in your car are designed to help prevent injury in an event of a accident. There is no maintenance for these items just visual and operational inspections. To check test the air bag safety system start by sitting in the drivers seat with all doors closed. Turn the ignition key to start the engine and allow to idle, the air bag warning light should illuminate for about five seconds and then go out. If the air bag warring light stays illuminated the system has shut down. (note: if an air bag warning light is illuminated while driving the air bag safety system has been disabled and will not activate in case of an accident.) 

Next, inspect all seat safety belts, with the car engine off on level ground take each belt and pull it out completely. Inspect the belt material for defects, tears or burn marks. Next check the retraction action of the belt it should retract fully with no rough or weak spots. Replace any seat belt that is damaged or shows signs of wear.

Checking the Exhaust System - An exhaust manifold is used to transfer exhaust gases from the exhaust port of the cylinder head to the exhaust pipe. This system needs little maintenance but a visual inspection is needed to ensure the proper operation. Engine exhaust is a poisonous gas that in concentrated amounts is deadly so it is important to perform an inspection annually. If an inspection reveals any rusted holes or broken exhaust pipes replacement is required.

Engine Tune Up - The engine ignition, fuel delivery and emissions systems are main support systems for your cars engine. These systems have various service parts and filters that must be changed for proper engine operation. The engine electrical system includes: spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor car, and ignition rotor (as equipped). If these components are left unattended they will build up additional resistance causing the ignition system to fail.

Check Windshield Wipers - In foul weather is essential to have new wiper blades to ensure proper windshield vision and control of the car. Replacing car wiper blades is relatively simple, first move the wiper arm to the upright position, next release the clip the attaches the wiper blade to the wiper arm. check blades for cracking or tears in the wiper rubber. Then, match up the new wiper blade to the old blade, next snap the new wiper blade in place and lower the wiper arm, repeat this operation on the opposite side.

Changing an Engine Air Filter - A car engine must have clean air to process, if any debris is present in the intake air it will cause premature engine failure. Inspecting the air filter is a simple process in most cases and typically only involves opening the hood and locating the air filter housing that is usually near the air intake. Remove the clips or screws that hold the lid of the air filter housing this will allow you to easily access the air filter. You can quickly inspect the filter to determine if it needs to be changed. Some slight discoloration is acceptable, however an air filter that is dirty should be changed to restore proper airflow to your vehicles engine.

Check Tire Wear and Rotation - Car tires are made out of flexible rubber which is incorporated with wire and fabric. The tires of an automobile support the braking, load, traction, and steering. Tires also absorb shock caused by bumps in the road and help provide a smooth ride to the passengers. Tires need to maintained at a prescribed air pressure and rotated at scheduled intervals. Most vehicle tire pressure recommendations are located on a sticker in the driver's door jam or on the side wall of the tire. 

While tire and car manufacturers recommend a prescribed tire pressure, it has been shown that slightly more tire pressure is optimal for achieving higher fuel economy by reducing rolling resistance. Some hybrid cars are manufactured with tires that can hold up to 55 P.S.I. as compared with the usual 32 P.S.I. For safety and better gas mileage always keep your tires properly inflated. Tire rotation patterns are dependent on the vehicle driving conditions and inflation. Most vehicle rotation pattern is straight front wheels to rear wheels.

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AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2013-08-28)