With school back in session and all that goes with that – early mornings, after school activities, shuttling kids to and from school – it’s an exciting time of year for parents, teachers and children. It’s also very busy, which means there’s less time for caring for your car. We’ve all been there at one point or another; the last thing anyone wants is to have car problems when you’re already running late! So whether you are a student driver, a faculty member, or a hustling parent, here’s a back to school checklist for your car.
Check your tires. It’s important to ensure that each one of your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and that they have enough tread left for safe and reliable travel. Pressure will depend on the type of tire you have and personal preference, but please feel free to contact us if you aren’t sure and our experienced auto repair technicians will be happy to help you. The standard rule of thumb is if your treat depth is under 4/32 of an inch then it’s time. Again, we can help you know for sure. Too often we see cars traveling down the road with under-inflated tires or notice bald tires in parking lots. These hazards pose serious risks not only for the driver of the vehicle and its passengers, but also others on the road in the sudden and unexpected event of a blowout. While you’re inspecting each tire, look for any foreign debris that the tire may have picked up from the road. Occasionally you’ll find a screw, nail or another piece of road debris that could cause a slow leak.
Check your fluids. Regularly checking and changing your engine oil is one of the best ways to prolong the life of your vehicle. If your oil level is below the minimum requirement as indicated on your oil dipstick, and you regularly use your vehicle, then you could cause serious damage to the internal parts of your engine. There are also other fluids that you’ll want to keep a close eye on – antifreeze or coolant, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid and transmission fluid are important ones. Some of these are easy for car owners to check, but others may require the help of an auto repair technician. We recommend reviewing your owner’s manual and brush up on where each of these fluids are located and how to check them so you can keep an eye on it yourself. Sometimes, when one of these fluids is low, discolored or otherwise out of spec, it will serve as a red flag letting you know your car is in need of service and/or repair.
Pay attention to your vehicle’s brakes. Have your been hearing squeaking or feeling shuttering when you apply the brake? Does the brake pedal feel spongy? Does your car seem to take longer to bring to a stop than it used to? These warning signs can all indicate that your car’s brakes need to be inspected and repaired. Depending on how often you drive and your driving style, your brake pads will need to be replaced regularly. Problems with your brake rotors or calipers can also arise over time. Where brakes are one of the most important safety functions of your vehicle, it’s important to keep close tabs on them and bring your car to an experienced mechanic if you think there could be a problem. During this busy time of year, preventative maintenance (when you do have time) is preferable to trying to fix a problem (when you don’t have time).
While this isn’t a comprehensive back to school checklist for your car, it’s a great please to start and will certainly help keep your car safe and reliable when you need it the most. On behalf of the entire team at Elite RV & Car Care, we hope you have a great school year. Stay safe!
CC image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker at Flickr