Ask the Oil Changes Expert – Brandon Entwistle
When was the last time you had a walk around your vehicle? We are all supposed to take a few extra minutes before we drive our vehicle to visually inspect it. Lights, tires, leaks, and vehicle damage are some small things to look at. While we do it every day, multiple times, at the Lubrication Stations, it is a bit foreign for most drivers. It doesn’t take much time and could be the difference between making it to your destination or sitting on the side of the road. Most people will have that awful experience when they are having a weekend at the lake, or a trip to see family, and the vehicle they are driving has an unexpected issue. Flat tires, fluid leaks causing provability issues, or even a ticket for not replacing that light bulb. I think that this happens at the worst possible time, like below zero degrees, or above 35. Try changing that flat tire first thing in the morning at -40 C. Sound like fun? I think not.
So before you get in here are some things to look at:
Tires. Having a flat tire is one of the most common problems vehicle owners have. Check the pressure with a gauge; it’s hard to see from just looking at them. (You can pick one up for cheap. I personally like the digital gauges that seem to be a little more accurate.) A lot of tires now are low profile tires, which can appear flat. On most vehicles you can find the recommended tire pressure on the driver’s side door-frame or door on a yellow or white sticker.
Does your vehicle have Tire Pressure Monitoring System? TPMS’s are becoming standard with more vehicle manufactures. This system, when working properly, should warn you of low tire pressure. The spare may not have a sensor so it requires regular manual checking. DO NOT OVER-INFLATE.
From my experience the TPMS on most vehicles warn you of low pressure but not over-inflation, which could be problematic as it can cause premature wear to the middle of the tire tread over a shorter period of time and lead to a blow-out. A dangerous situation, especially at highway speed. So keep them accurate. Please.
Also look at you tires’ tread. Don’t rub your hand over the tire because there could be something sharp sticking out. Tire tread should never be too low, causing a loss of traction. The tread catches and moves things like water, dirty, snow, and ice. When you are getting that tire pressure gauge why not pick up a depth finder also.
Lights. Check and see that all of your lights are working correctly. You will need two people for this because it can be a little hard to check your own break lights. Having headlights that don’t work will impair your vision at night. Headlights that work correctly are for your safety as well as for other drivers on the road. They also need to see your brake lights and signal lights so it is an absolute must to have working lights. It’s very easy to cause an accident without them.
Leaks. Found some drips under the vehicle? If so, take the vehicle to be inspected. Having leaks may cause one of the vehicles many operating systems to fail, leaving you in the worst possible position – an expensive tow bill, repair bill, and maybe a rental car. A common reason for brake failure is because of a lack of fluid. The leak could be from something as small as a drain plug, which would cause the engine, transmission, transfer case, or differentials to seize from low fluid. Drain plugs and gaskets are very cheap; these systems are not. Be proactive if you find something under the vehicle that wasn’t before. Be safe and get it checked.
Damage. Often when customers come through our shop they have damage to the underside of the vehicle. We find that skid plates are damaged from the winters in Saskatchewan; it doesn’t take much to damage it. Skid plates are usually plastic and are on most cars and some trucks. These plates offer some protection to the engine and can help vehicle performance. Either have it repaired or removed until you can get it replaced. Leaving things hanging under the vehicle may cause further damaged to engine components or other body panels.
The average yearly vehicle kilometres have gone from 24,000 to 35,000. Vehicles are very important to most people so before you head out check it over for these small things. These visual inspections and more are part of the Lubrication Stations’ regular service. Oil changes are required every 5,000-10,000km depending on the vehicle manufacturer but a lot can happen before your car is due. Our inspections are FREE with or without our services. The Lubrication Stations want you to get to your destination safely. Inspections are small but they could make difference so before you take that long trip double check.
Have a fun, safe, enjoyable summer, from Lubrication Stations, the best road trip prep team.