Despite all the talk about today’s new cars being nearly maintenance-free, remember that low maintenance doesn’t mean less maintenance. True, cars today don’t require as much care as those of a decade ago, but they still need a certain amount of attention to keep them in good running condition.
Inspect a car and maintaining it properly is important. Neglecting this can be a serious problem. Self-serve gasoline had eliminated the mechanic who used to check your oil for you, and who was apt to spot a potential problem such as a leaky hose, clogged air filter, or frayed fan belt before it failed.
Today, too many motorists have become “gas-and-go” drivers completely unaware of the deteriorating condition of their car-until something breaks and causes a problem.
What to Inspect for Maintenance of Your Car?
Maintaining your car means preventing premature wear, and the problems can cause, through regular periodic inspections and replacement of wear-prone components. You can get a professional for this job or DIY in your garage.
This includes such things as the motor oil, automatic transmission fluid, coolant, filters, and various engine, suspension, and brake components that are subjected to rubbing, sliding, turning, pounding, heat, corrosion, or extreme pressure.
Checking the Owner’s Manual for the Car
Your car’s maintenance items should be checked and replaced according to the mileage and time recommendations in your owner’s manual, or according to the schedule we’ve suggested in this section.
Many professional mechanics believe the service interval recommendations in new-car owner’s manuals are overly optimistic for the average driver, and instead suggest more frequent intervals.
Some car manufacturers recommend 50,000-mile replacement intervals on air filters, PCV valves, and engine coolant in their owner’s manuals-an a range that may only be appropriate for the high-mileage driver who covers, a lot of miles in a short period.
Factory recommended oil change intervals of 7500 to 10,000 miles, with filter changes suggested at only every other oil drain, likewise are probably much too far apart for most short-trip, stop-and-go drivers.
Changing Motor Oil Regularly
Motor oil should be changed regularly, not because it wears out or because it becomes dirty, but primarily because the protective additives in it are mostly depleted after 3000 to 4000 miles of driving.
Once they’re gone, wear accelerates quickly. As for the oil filter, most mechanics think it is a false economy to run clean oil through a dirty filter. Therefore, they recommend a new filter at every oil change.
How Car Maintenance is Protecting Your Investment
Maintaining your car is a way of protecting your investment, and it can save you money for several reasons.
- It can prevent small problems from becoming big expensive ones.
- It keeps your vehicle in good running condition, and that means easier starting, smoother running, peak performance, and fuel economy. This saves gas and reduces the possibility of an unexpected breakdown and the service call and towing charges that usually result.
- It helps your vehicle retain greater value, so you’ll do better when it’s time to sell or trade your car for another.
- For those who live in areas that require periodic vehicle emissions tests, keeping your car properly tuned lessens the chance of failing the test, and that contributes to clean air.
- There’s also the satisfaction of knowing you can depend on your car when you need it.
Maintenance and Safety Inspection Checklist of Car (Used and New)
The accompanying checklist can be used to determine the overall condition of your vehicle. Check each item listed in the chart, and note whether the item is okay or if it needs service. You look for anything that appears loose, worn, cracked, leaking, or nonfunctioning.
A brief explanation vehicle inspection checklist of each item follows.
Steering play should be less than one-half inch when the steering wheel is rocked back and forth. Looseness indicates worn tie-rod ends or excessive play in the steering gear.
Check Brake Pedal
The brake pedal should feel firm and travel no more than a few inches. A low pedal indicates worn brake linings or low fluid. A spongy pedal may mean a worn master cylinder or air in the brake lines. In this case, you will need a bender to bend these brake lines.
Emergency Brake Inspection of the Vehicle
The emergency brake should lock the rear wheels and be able to hold the car on a slight incline or prevent it from moving when the transmission is put into gear. The rear wheels should turn freely once the brake is released.
Does the Horn Works?
Horn is one of the things that can be ignored rather easily. But on the road, a bad or non-workable horn can be a big deal, and it can lead you to massive accidents. So you should check that. A safety item that should be checked frequently
Safety Checking of the Windshield for a Used Car
The wipers should work at all speeds and should clean windows without leaving streaks. Replace blades if rotted, cracked, or pitted.
Also, you should check and maintain the windshield washers. The washers should squirt both sides of the windshield when activated.
Don’t Overlook Mirrors.
Inside and outside mirrors should be clear and unobstructed. Check mountings for tightness.
Defroster. Warm air should blow onto the windshield when the defrosters are turned on. Rear window electric defoggers should make the glass feel warm to the touch.
Spare Tire and Jack
A spare tire and complete jack should be in the trunk. Check the condition and tire pressure of the spare.
Note: Some temporary spares are stored uninflated-make sure there is a pressure can to inflate it.
Check to see that all the pieces for the jack are there and that the jack works. There should also be a lug wrench for the wheels. Better to discover a problem now than after a blowout or flat.
Maintain the Car Fluid levels
Fluid levels should be maintained between the “full” and “add” marks. Engine oil should be checked with the engine off, after waiting several minutes for the oil to drain back into the crankcase.
Automatic transmission fluid should be checked hot with the engine idling in park or neutral. The coolant level should be checked when the engine is cold and off.
Is the Air Filter Clogged? (take help of car inspection services if not)
The air filter should not restrict airflow. A clogged or damaged filter should be replaced immediately. There are many car inspection services near you in the USA. You can get help from these companies if the problem is that critical.
Check out some car inspection service near you in the USA:
- Driveway | The Car Inspection Company in Florida (Address: 3343, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309)
- Auto Inspection Service in Ohio (Address: 9570, Ostrander, OH 43061)
- Midtown Auto Service & Repair Service and Shop.
- Safety Inspection Services Maui (Address: 986 Lower Main St, Wailuku)
- Michigan Automotive Inspection Services.
- Auto 7 Tech in Texas (Address: 3601 W Parmer Ln, TX 78727)
- Lemon Squad Used Car Inspection, Los Angeles.
You can also search in google addressing your place to see the results.
Checking and Maintaining Driving Belts (V-belts)
Check drive belts for looseness, fraying, broken strands, serious cracks, or glazing. Drive belts should be tight enough to prevent slippage but not so fast as to put undue strain on the belt or pulley bearings.
Hose Inspection and Repair for Used Car
There are different kinds of hoses you need to check as used car inspection, especially.
Radiator hoses: Inspect hoses for cracks or age hardening by squeezing them. Hoses should feel soft and pliable, not hard and brittle. Also, check hose connections and clamps for looseness or leaks.
Heater hoses: Same as radiator hoses. Also, check for rubbing against sharp objects or hot exhaust manifolds. Replace any damaged hoses.
PCV valve and hose: Check the PCV valve and hose with the engine running, by pulling the valve out of its housing and holding your thumb over the open end. You should feel a strong vacuum. Also, the valve should rattle when shaken (turn the engine off first).
Vacuum hoses: Vacuum hoses should be tight and free from cracks, kinks, or burn spots. Hose routing can be checked against the emissions decal under the hood.
How to Get Car Inspected for Plugs and Caps
Distributor cap: The cap should be free from cracks or other signs of electrical arcing or deterioration. Inside, it should be clean and dry, and the terminal contacts in good condition.
Spark plug wires: Terminals should fit into the distributor cap tightly, and boots should fit around the spark plugs snugly. The wires must be free of visible damage, chafing, or burn spots.
Arcing is most easily detected by observing the plug wires while the engine is running outdoors after dark.
Maintaining and Checking Batteries
Checking battery and battery terminals on a regular basis is a must. It doesn’t matter if you can do it by yourself or often find a mechanic to inspect used car its parts, you need to see the batteries.
Battery inspecting is not a big deal, and you can learn it online easily. You should know what is the life of a car battery to improve the lifespan and using it safely.
To do so, just go through the wiring and the acid level and other issues. The terminals and cables should be tight and free from corrosion.
Checking the Car Lights and Signals
Headlights: Check both high and low beams. Aiming can be checked by parking about 20 feet from a wall or garage door and noting the light pattern. Both headlights should be aimed at the level and straight ahead.
Taillights: Check to see that all taillights work when the lights are on.
Brake lights: The brake lights should operate when the brake pedal is depressed.
Turn signals: Check both left and right, front and rear turn signals by working the turn signal switch with the ignition on.
License plate light: An often-overlooked item that should come on with the headlights.
Backup lights: They should come on when the transmission is put into reverse.
How to Check and Inspect Car Tires
Using a tire for a long time can cause internal tears and damages. This is quite normal if you are using your car for a long time. So, keeping the minimum of the damage doesn’t only help you to gain proper momentum and speed but also enables you to avoid any serious accidents.
So here are a few things you need to check:
Tire Inflation: Check tire pressures when the tires are cold. Both front tires should have equal pressure, as should both rear tires. You should check the pressure at least once in two months, if not once a month.
You can use different tools to measure tire PSI and understand what the maximum pressure it can take. Proper composite pressure will allow distinct advantages like comfortable riding, better load capacity, and wear.
Tire Age: Used car often has tire issues that needed thorough checkup. What if you are using a new car for a year or a few months, the age will affect the tire. So, check up these few things:
- Cuts cracks can be an issue for safe driving, so check these regularly.
- Check if there are scrapes on the side of the tire after ages.
- Check a few things like Punctures and Bulges of the tire before going for a ride.
- See if there are bumps to make sure if you are going to have a safe ride.
Tire Conditions: Look at the tread and note if there is uneven wear or cupping that may indicate misalignment or worn suspension parts. Check the sidewalls for bulges, cracking, or other damage.
State Car Inspection for Fluid Leaks and Damps
Check underneath for any fluids that may be leaking from the vehicle. Damp, smelly spots under the rear of the vehicle may indicate a gas leak from the fuel tank or fuel line.
Dark brown or black oily spots near the back could be differential oil leaking from the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars. Yellow, brown, or black oily spots under the front of your car point to engine oil leaks, or possibly transaxle oil leaks on front-wheel-drive vehicles.
Red oily spots under the middle of rear-wheel-drive cars may be automatic transmission fluid. The same in the front for the front-wheel-drive would mean a leaky transaxle.
Green, blue, or bright wet spots may be due to coolant leaking from the radiator, a lousy hose connection, the water pump, or a freeze plug on the engine.
Check and Maintain Shock Absorbers/struts.
The condition of the shocks/struts can be checked by doing a bounce test. Rock either corner of the car several times and then let go. A right shock/strut should stop the bouncing after one or two rebounds.
Fluid leaks on shocks indicate a replacement is in order; a small amount of seepage is standard on some types of struts. The mounts should be checked for wear.
Check and Maintain the Tie-rod Ends for Used Car
Tie-rods should have no visible looseness. If rocking the steering wheel or tire causes the joint to wobble, the tie-rod end should be replaced. On rack & pinion steering, the inner tie-rods are enclosed in protective rubber boots.
The boots must be replaced if they’re cracked or split to protect the steering gear against dirt and moisture. You can feel for looseness in the inner tie-rod sockets by squeezing the boots while someone rocks the steering wheel or tire for you. Again, there should be no looseness.
Note: If you feel fluid inside the boots, it means your power steering system is leaking, and the steering gear may soon need replacement.
Used Car Wheel Checkup and How to Maintain
Inspecting Ball joints
Check for looseness with the front wheels raised off the ground and the load off the ball joints. A large screwdriver or pry bar can be used to check for vertical free play.
Some ball joints have a wear indicator as part of the grease fitting. If the worn shoulder is showing, the joint is worn.
Check for looseness in the linkage by rocking the steering wheel back and forth. Check out and repair these things to drive safely and smoothly.
Some Other Car Safety Inspection Checklist
All rubber brake hoses must be leak-free and in good condition. Replace any found to be leaking, cracked, or damaged. Likewise, any steel brake hoses found to be leaking or damaged should be replaced with a perfect brake flaring tool.
The exhaust system must be tight and leak-free. Check for rusted-out pipes, loose hangers, or cracked muffler connections.
Emergency brake cables
The cables should not be frayed or rubbing against sharp objects under the car.
Inspect a Car: CV-joints or U-joints
The CV-joint boots must be in good condition and tight to protect the joint. Clicking sounds when turning indicates a bad CV-joint.
U-joints on rear-wheel-drive cars must not have any visible free-play. A “clunk” when shifting into gear may indicate a bad U-joint.
Differential Lube Inspecting by Professional or Personal
The differential oil level should be up on the full point. Use only the recommended oil when adding lube.
On most rear-drive vehicles, this would be 80-90W gear oil, but on vehicles equipped with locking differentials, gear oil with special additives is required. Some front-drive cars use transmission fluid to lubricate the differential.