Ask a Mechanic: At - Home Diagnostics
Many of the issues that come into the shop can be prevented or prolonged by a few simple diagnostics that you can do at home!
Here are a few tips & tricks for keeping your car out of the shop, and on the road:
- Storage: where you keep your vehicle can affect it's life span and mobility. Although not everyone has the room or finances for professional storage, small efforts can be made to keep your vehicle running clean and smoothly. Keeping it covered and/or out of snow, rain, and ice when possible, maintaining the temperature in your garage or storage facility, and keeping the bottom out of pools of water and snow. All these weather and storage elements overtime can and will affect the way, and length of time your vehicle operates. When possible, store your car in a professional storage facility where trained technicians can properly care for it.
- Aggressive Driving: this includes elements such as bad road conditions, driving in an aggressive or sporadic manner, or driving when warning lights are illuminated on the dash.
- Monitoring Fluids: keeping an eye on your fluid levels is important, as well as the grade of fluids you put into your vehicle. The grade of fluids used plays a big role in the life of the interior and individual parts of your vehicle. Many customers are surprised to hear that brake fluid and coolant should be changed every 3 years. Oil changes should also be done every 8,000km, most dealerships will only do an oil change every 16,000km, which is much too long to wait for most vehicles.
- Noisy Engine: this is one of the most common problems we hear about, and one of the simplest to prevent. The usual reason for this is because drivers ignore warning lights on their dash. As soon as one of the dash icons illuminates, you need to bring your vehicle into a shop. By ignoring and neglecting these warnings, the car will begin to internally breakdown and loosen, which leads to a noisy or "clunky" sounding engine.
- Maintenance Scheduling: although your vehicle may not require multiple inspections annually, you do need to maintain a regular schedule for service and maintenance. As mentioned, dealerships are not able to properly maintain all the vehicles on their lots, which means owners need to be responsible for knowing what their specific model needs, and when. As well as ensuring warning signs and lights are not ignored.
In some instances, maintenance issues can be traced back to the dealership. Not all dealers are able to offer or provide the proper care and technologies that some models require. Although they do their best, it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the vehicle has been tested, maintained, and safe.
From interior to exterior, each model has different needs which sometimes requires special and specific care. However, by making small efforts and monitoring your vehicle, you can avoid hefty repair fees and prolong the life of your vehicle.