Vehicle Maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance is very important when it comes to safe driving. If you are operating a vehicle that is potentially unsafe to drive, that puts you as the driver in danger – as well as other drivers on the road. Let’s take a look at some common and routine vehicle maintenance that all drivers should do. 


Checking Fluid Levels

Checking your fluid levels throughout the vehicle on a regular basis is important. You want to make sure that your engine’s oil level is sufficient. You can check this easily by removing the oil cap under the hood and using the oil ‘dipstick’ in order to check the level. The oil should also be light brown or amber colored, never black.

Other important fluids that you must make sure are at the appropriate levels are your vehicle’s engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer fluid. In order to find where each of these fluids is housed within the vehicle, you simply need to check your owners manual. 

While under the hood and checking your fluids, take a look at your engine’s air filter as well and make sure that it is clean and not old and clogged. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow to the engine and cause your vehicle to run poorly. 


Tire Pressure and Tread

Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure that your tire pressure is where it should be. The correct tire pressure that your tires need can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s door jamb. If your tires are lower than the recommended air pressure, you can go to your local gas station and use their air machine to add air. 

Checking your tires tread is also very important as the tread is what grips the road while driving. The minimum tread depth is typically 1/16 inch. A neat trick to check to tire tread depth is to use a penny. Insert a penny head first into the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, you should replace that tire. 


While you are checking your tires, always keep an eye out for any damage on the tires or bubbling. 

Lights and Turn Signals

At least once a month it’s a good idea to check that all your lights are working on the vehicle. Brake lights, headlights and turning signal lights should all be functioning properly. If you find that one of these lights is not working, it’s most often just a blown light bulb. Check with your local auto parts store to get a replacement bulb. 


Dashboard Signals and Alerts

The dashboard of your vehicle can hold a lot of valuable information when it comes to letting you know if something is wrong with how the vehicle is functioning. Here are a few common warning lights/signals on the dashboard to keep an eye out for. 

The most common alert that people see light up on their dashboard is the ‘Check Engine’ light. This light illuminates when the vehicle’s sensors sense that something is wrong. When you see this light come on, you don’t have to necessarily be alarmed, as the check engine light can come on for something as simple as not closing your gas cap all the way. If this light comes on, it’s best to have your vehicle looked at so a mechanic or auto parts store can hook a computer up to it in order to see what the alert is for. 


A seat belt indicator light (this icon shows a person wearing a seatbelt) will also light up when a driver or passenger in the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt. 


If a coolant symbol illuminates (this typically looks like a thermometer being dipped in water), this means that your vehicle is running low on coolant and that could cause your engine to overheat. 


There is also an oil indicator light that may come on when you are low on oil, or the oil is old. This light can also come on when the engine’s oil filter is clogged. 


The windshield washer icon (looks like a windshield with a wiper in the middle) is probably the one that comes on most often. This simply means that you are running very low on windshield washer fluid. 


If you ever want to know what all of the indicator lights mean on your dashboard, your vehicle’s owners manual will show you what each looks like and what they mean. 


These routine vehicle maintenance suggestions are the most common things you should be checking for on a routine basis. Going over your vehicle once per month is usually a great rule of thumb. Taking care of smaller issues before they turn into larger ones is key in saving you time, energy and money! Plus, it keeps you and your occupants safe on the road.