How to Perform an Automotive Safety Inspection

Step 1 - A vehicle relies on several fluids to maintain proper operation such as engine oil and coolant, when these fluids run low they can causes minor or major problems. Learn more

Checking Engine Oil

Step 2 - If engine service is overdue (dark oil on stick), perform an oil change including the filter, check the engine oil level and add until between the "ADD" and "FULL" indicators of the dip stick.

Add Engine Oil

Step 3 - Wiper blades are needed to clean the windshield free from water and debris, inspect wipers for cracks or degradation, they should also sit firmly on the windshield to help eliminate streaks.

Wiper Blade

Step 4 - Wiper blades are a normal maintenance item and should be replaced regularly. Please visit wiper blade replacement guide for further information.

Wiper Blades

Step 5 - Washer fluid or solvent is used to help clear the windshield of dirt and debris with the assistance of the wipers, inspect the level of the washer solvent and add if needed.

Washer Fluid

Step 6 - Coolant is used to transfer engine heat to the radiator and to help avoid expansion inside the engine block in freezing temperatures which will cause serious engine damage. If the coolant is weak, corrosion causing acids can form which can cause water pump and gasket failures. Service the cooling system at regular intervals to avoid the negative effects of neglect.

Adding Coolant

Step 7 - Good tire condition is essential for driving in wet and icy roads, check tire condition by inspecting side wall condition and air pressure readings.

Tire Safety Inspection

Step 8 - Also inspect tire tread wear patterns which can indicate additional problems such as shock or strut wear. Tires should have at least 5/32” of tread, snow tires should be installed when needed, check the spare tire as well and carry chains in snowy conditions.

Tire Tread

Step 9 - Typically in winter months an automotive battery is prone to failure due to the drop in temperature. To avoid battery problems perform a load test which will detect failure, replace the battery if weak, also inspect and clean the battery terminals if corroded. A battery's life is limited, and should be replaced regardless of performance every five years.

Replace Battery

Step 10 - Inspect headlight operation including lens clarity, replace bulbs which have failed with new, clean or replace lens as needed.


Step 11 - Brake lights are used to warn drivers of an anticipated vehicle stop, beyond normal lighting systems the brake lights represent a safety issue.

Brake Lights

Step 12 - Turn indicators help warn of an intended lane change, check their operation by turning the ignition key to the "ON" position, work the lever in each direction while observing bulb operation and replace bulbs as needed.

Exterior Light Inspection

Step 13 - The serpentine drive belt is needed for the engine to operate correctly, using a flashlight inspect the belt for cracks and glazing.

Inspect Serpentine Belt

Step 14 - Replaced the belt when signs of wear are present, please visit serpentine belt replacement for further information.

Serpentine Belt Replacement

Step 15 - An automatic transmission relies on fluid to operate correctly, inspect the fluid while the engine is running to determine level and condition of the fluid, service the transmission if needed.

Checking Transmission Fluid

Step 16 - Power steering fluid is used to assist the steering pump, check fluid levels to ensure proper operation, if the fluid smells burnt or is discolored service the system by performing a fluid flush.

Inspecting Brake Fluid

Step 17 - Brake fluid is used to actuate the brake system, inspect the brake fluid level in the reservoir. Typically this fluid does not evaporate so if the system is low, the front brake pads may need replacement or there is a leak somewhere in the system, if the fluid is dirty perform a bleed and flush.

Adding Brake Fluid

Step 18 - Checking cooling system hoses help prevent unexpected hose ruptures, squeeze each hose to check for cracking, weak spots or bulging, these are signs the hoses need to be replaced.

Checking Upper Radiator Hose

Step 19 - Coolant hoses are a normal service item and should be replaced when signs of wear are present. Please visit radiator hose replacement guide for more information.

Radiator Hose Replacement

Step 20 - An airbag safety system is used to help keep passengers safe in the event of an accident, if the airbag warning light is on while driving the system is non-operational. Please visit air bag guide for further information.

Airbag Warning Light

Step 21 - Identify warning lights such as a check engine soon light illuminated in the instrument cluster while driving, these lights indicate a problem that needs attention, identifying a problem early can mean the difference from a simple repair, or a costly one.

Warning Lights

Step 22 - It's the driver's responsibility that everyone in the vehicle is fastened securely, make sure all safety belts are working properly and stay fastened after being buckled.

Seat Belt

Helpful Information

Preventative maintenance inspections are beneficial to a safe journey. Keep a first aid kit, blanket, bottled water, food snacks, basic tool kit and road flares handy during long trips or when the vehicle becomes disabled.

In snow, sand or kitty litter can help the vehicle gain traction by applying these substances at the drive wheels, a small shovel can be also used to dig deep snow away from the vehicle’s tires.

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