One of the best things you can do to ensure your car has a long and relatively problem-free lifespan is to perform regular maintenance. Giving your vehicle check-ups will help you catch any mechanical issues before they get worse and ensures that everything’s running in tip-top shape. Regular maintenance also helps you stay within your warranty contract, can keep fuel consumption efficient and reduce emissions.
Your owner’s manual is the number one place you should refer to when it comes monthly checks. Every vehicle is different but your manual is the go-to resource for specific details about your make and model.
While vehicle maintenance is best left up to the professionals, there are a few assessments you can perform on a monthly basis. Natural Resources Canada produces A Guide to Auto$mart Vehicle Maintenance and recommends that consumers look at the following areas to identify any problems and to potentially save money in the future:
- Check the tire pressure and look for signs of uneven wear, bulges or cracks, or embedded objects that could cause air leaks. In the winter, you’ll want to measure the tire pressure whenever there are extreme temperature changes to make sure you have proper pressure.
- Look for any type of fluid leaks around the car and underneath. The colour of the liquid will help you identify what type of fluid may be leaking – oil is black, coolant is bright greenish yellow, automatic transmission fluid is pink and power steering fluid and brake fluids are clear, with a slight brown tinge. All of the fluids are oily to the touch. This is important to the condition of the vehicle, but also for health: coolant for example, is poisonous to dogs and cats. You’ll want to be careful leaks are taken care of for your vehicle and also to ensure pets don’t lick the residue on your driveway for example and become sick.
- Observe the fluid levels in your car. You’ll want to make sure your engine oil, engine coolant level, transmission fluid and power steering fluid are all at the proper levels as outlined in your owner’s manual.
- Have a look under the hood for cracked or split spark plug wires, cracked radiator hoses or loose clamps and corrosion around the battery terminals.
- The next time you’re out on the road, see how well your brakes are working. Find a straight, flat and traffic-free road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and gently and gradually apply the brakes. If you find the vehicles swerves to one side, that could mean that one of your brake linings is more worn and your brakes could require an adjustment.
- Another test you can apply on a straight road, free of cars, is one that monitors your wheel alignment. To do this, just rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and drive at a steady pace. If you feel the vehicle pulling to one side, then the wheels may be misaligned.
For specific information about each area of your car, you can visit this guide on the Natural Resources Canada website.