How To Find Your Way Under the Hood and Around the Car - Engine

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Under the hood

1. Check the anti-freeze /coolant level weekly. Newer cars have see-through reservoirs with level markings. Top off with 50/50 solution of permanent anti-freeze and water. Caution: Don't remove the pressure cap when the engine is hot.

2. Inspect belts monthly. Replace worn, glazed or frayed belts tighten them when they have more than 1/2" of slack when depressed between the pulleys. Replace bulging or rotten hoses and tighten clamps.

3. Check transmission fluid with engine warm and running, parking brake on. Shift to drive, then to park. Remove dipstick, wipe dry, insert and pull it again, add fluid if needed. Do not overfill!

4. Check oil every other fill up. Remove the dipstick, wipe it insert it and remove it again. If it's low add oil

5. Check the air filter every month or two. Replace it when it's dirty or as part of tune-up. It's easy to reach, right under the big metal "lid"

6. Check brake fluid monthly. First wipe dirt from the brake master cylinder reservoir lid. Pry off the retainer clip and remove the lid. If you need fluid add the approved type and check for possible leaks.

7. Keep windshield washer reservoir full. When topping off, use some solvent on a rag to clean off the wiper blades.

8. Check the battery monthly in cold weather, weekly in hot weather and daily on long trips. Make sure the cables are attached securely and free of corrosion. Check fluid level. If yours has filler holes add water as needed. Note: do not smoke or light a match near a battery.

9. Power steering fluid: Check level once a month. Simply remove the dipstick. If the level is down add fluid

Around the car

10. Inspect windshield wiper blades Whenever you clean your wind shield. Do not wait until rubber is worn or brittle to replace them. Wiper blades Should be replaced at least once a year. More often if smearing or chattering occurs.

11. Be sure all your lights are working, including brake lights, turn signals and emergency flashers. Keep them clean, too.

12. Keep tires inflated to recommended pressure (it helps to own a gauge). Check for cuts, bulges and excessive tread wear. Uneven wear indicates misalignment or out-of-balance.

13. Look for signs of oil on shock absorbers. Test shock action by bouncing car up and down. The car should stop bouncing when you step back. Worn or leaking shocks should be replaced. Always replace in pairs.

14. Look underneath for loose or broken exhaust clamps and supports. Check for holes in muffler or pipes. Replace rusted or damaged parts.

Courtesy of the Car Care Council