Inspecting Your Vehicle For The Summer Season

Posted on: 25 April 2017

If you plan to be on the road this summer, it's a good idea to check out your vehicle before you hit the open road. You can perform a simple inspection on your own to check basic maintenance and spot potential problems.

Before you begin, you should invest in a few inexpensive items that will assist you greatly in checking out your vehicle's many components.

What will you need to perform a simple maintenance check on your vehicle?


Even if you work in bright sunshine, your engine compartment will likely be shaded by the vehicle's hood, making it difficult to see what you need to inspect.

Paper towels and wet wipes

You will need dry paper towels to check fluid levels on dipsticks, because wet towels may contaminate the fluids when the dipstick is returned into its holder.

Wet wipes may be needed to clean the outer surfaces of fluid storage tanks which have level markings imprinted on the sides of the tanks.

Plug in voltage tester for checking battery

Small funnel for adding fluids 

Checking your battery and charging system

This is where you need the voltage tester, which plugs directly into one of the power ports of your vehicle. When the tester is fully seated inside the port, you will turn the key to the accessory setting.

The number on the tester should read slightly over 12.0 at this setting. This indicates that the battery is holding a full charge.

You will then turn on the vehicle and check the tester, which should then read over 14.0. A reading over 14.0 indicates that your charging system is working properly.

Checking fluid levels

Fluid levels should always be checked on level ground to get an accurate reading. The procedure for checking various levels differs according to the fluid to be checked.

Checking your oil level

You should check the oil level after the vehicle has been running for at least 10-15 minutes, so the oil will be heated and expanded to its fullest level.

Checking your oil when the vehicle is cold may give a false low reading, and if oil is added, it may expand to a point that seals are burst and severe engine damage could occur.

After the vehicle is sufficiently warmed, turn off the ignition and wait about 10 minutes for the oil to settle into the oil pan.

You will then withdraw the dipstick ( it may have a yellow tip or may have a picture of an oil can, depending on the vehicle..

Wipe the dipstick clean with a clean dry paper towel, then reinsert it fully and withdraw it once again. The oil level should be at any point between the two dots on the dipstick.

The oil should also be light brown and semitransparent. If it is dark and thick, you need an oil change.

If the level is lower than the dot that is closest to the end of the dipstick, you should add one quart of oil. Refer to your owner's manual or look online for the proper type of oil.

To add oil, remove the threaded cap from the top of the engine. Insert the funnel into the opening, and pour the oil into the funnel slowly until the container is empty. Replace the cap.

Checking your coolant level

You can check your coolant level by looking at the side of the plastic overflow tank that holds the visible portion of the coolant. 

You will see both a high and low mark on the container, and the level should be between the marks. If the level is low, add enough coolant to reach the full mark.

Don't worry about adding too much, because it will simply run out onto the ground. However, you must choose the correct coolant or risk overheating and a breakdown in summer traffic. 

Refer to your owner's manual for the proper coolant.

If this all sounds like something you'd rather leave to the pros, many auto repair services have spring and summer maintenance packages that are reasonably priced and convenient for busy families.