How To Inspect Your Own Car

Inspecting your own vehicle for issues can help save you money and time at the repair shop. Don’t forget to take notes and give them to your local Christian Brothers Automotive for your quality auto repairs.

Start with what you See, Hear, Feel

Look under the car:

  • See any fluids on the driveway?
    • If yes…what color? Colors can identify fluid type
    • Note where it is leaking…front, middle, rear? Driver side? Passenger side?
    • Fluids should stay inside the system they support…they should not be seen out of their place.

Tires – take a look at the tires

  • Check tire pressure
  • Check tread depth
  • Check wheel lug nuts…yes…they are sometimes missing…this is a safety issue.
  • Low tire pressure affects
    • Gas mileage
    • Tire life
    • Braking safety…low pressure can cause the car to not brake straight

Brakes – Listen and feel when you apply the brakes

  • Squealing noise…Only when you apply the brake? All the time?
  • Grinding noise when you brake
  • Vibration
    • Feel it in your hands on steering wheel
    • Feel it in your foot–brake pedal
  • When do the above sounds or vibration happen?
    • At high speeds only?
    • Low speeds?
    • Any time you brake
    • When does the pulling occur…high speed, low speed, all the time?

Lights

  • Turn on the headlights…
    • Both sides working?
    • Turn on the bright lights
  • Check the brake lights
    • Have someone press the brake pedal
  • Check the turn signal
    • Both directions working?
    • Check front and rear turn signals.

Look under the hood

  • Battery – are the terminals clean? Gross looking? Are the terminals tight?
  • See any fluids obviously leaking around hoses?
  • Do the hoses look extremely dry? Bulging?
  • Do the belts look dry? See any small cracks in the belts?
  • See anything leaking around gaskets?
  • When was the motor oil last changed? Check the oil level.
  • Check the transmission fluid level. Mileage when this fluid was last changed?
  • Check the power steering fluid level. Mileage when was this fluid last changed?
  • Check the brake fluid level. Mileage when was this fluid last changed?
  • Just like engine oil…the other fluids wear out and stop lubricating the system they support.
    • These fluids should be changed at recommended intervals to extend the life of the parts.
  • Check the coolant level

Start the engine.

  • Do you hear any:
    • Squealing
    • Chirping
    • Grinding
    • Knocking
  • When do you hear the sounds?
    • All the time?
    • Slow speeds?
    • High speeds?
    • When the car is cold and first starts?
    • When you apply the brakes?
    • When you turn right? Turn left?
    • When the car is warmed up and moving?
  • See any smoke?
  • Smell anything burning?
  • Do you have any Check Engine Lights visible?
  • Any other warning lights on?

Make notes and take them to your local repair facility. This will help the technician diagnose your issues and get you back on your way with a healthy vehicle.