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.
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.
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 blades are a normal maintenance item and should
be replaced regularly. Please visit
wiper blade replacement
guide for further information.
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.
Good tire condition is essential for driving in wet and icy roads, check tire
condition by inspecting side wall condition and
air pressure readings.
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.
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.
Inspect headlight operation including lens clarity,
replace bulbs which have
failed with new, clean or replace lens as needed.
Brake lights are used to warn drivers of an anticipated vehicle stop, beyond
normal lighting systems the brake lights
represent a safety issue.
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.
The serpentine drive belt is needed for the engine to operate correctly, using
a flashlight inspect the belt for cracks and glazing. Replaced the belt when signs
of wear are present, please visit serpentine
belt replacement for further information.
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
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 power steering
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,
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.
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. Coolant hoses are a normal service item and should be replaced
when signs of wear are present. Please visit
radiator hose replacement guide for
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.
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.
Our certified technicians are ready to answer car safety inspection questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly.