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Driving After Lockdown - Maintenance Tips and Signs that Your Vehicle Needs a Tune-Up

Posted in AUTO BODY, on February 26, 2021

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the world. For the majority of us, lockdown meant no more commuting to work, which meant less driving. Staying inside our homes for the majority of the time has put our vehicles into a hibernation-like state, where they are used much less frequently than before. Nevertheless, we’re bound to get back into our routine once the restrictions are lifted, and that means we’ll start using our vehicles more frequently again, either for travel, for commuting or daily trips. Before you get back out on the road again, it’s good to check up on your vehicle and make sure that there are no underlying issues. Here are some of the things to check up on. 

Tips from the pros

Engine oil level - With the engine off, open your car’s hood and pull the dipstick out from the engine. Wipe off any oil residue and then insert the dipstick into the tube, pushing it allchecking oil levels the way in. This way you’ll see whether the oil is low and if you need to top it off. 

Tire pressure - Checking tire pressure ensures your safety on the road and a longer lifespan for your tires. First, find your recommended tire pressure (usually on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb, in the vehicle manual or near the console, the fuel door or the trunk lid). The best time to do this is when you haven’t driven your vehicle yet. Next, pick your gauge - you can choose between a stick gauge, the dial gauge or a digital gauge. Then, remove the valve cap on your tire, press the gauge on the valve and wait for the results. On a dial gauge, wait until the needle on the face stops moving, and on a stick gauge, wait until the white plastic stick stops moving. If you’re using a stick gauge, make sure to use the open end, not the other side that releases air. Repeat the check two or three times to make sure you’re getting the right results. Now that you know the pressure of your tires, you can compare it to the manufacturer’s instructions and inflate them as needed.

Battery - Your car’s battery won’t last forever. Make sure you check your battery’s charge and ensure it has enough juice to keep you going for months ahead. Checking the battery voltage is quite simple. All you need is a voltmeter, which can be purchased in a hardware store. Turn off the engine and remove the positive terminal cover from the battery. Attach the voltmeter’s positive lead to the battery’s positive lead and do the same for negative leads. A fully charged battery reads around 12.6 - 12.8 volts. Anything above 12.9 shows that you have excessive voltage, so you should drain it by turning on the high beams. If the voltage is below 12.4, then go ahead and charge the battery.

Rust weakens the rotors over time and increases brake pad wear. If your vehicle has an open-spoke wheel design, run your finger down the brake to detect grooves. If there are any, it’s time to replace the brake rotors. In vehicles that have hub caps that don’t expose the rotor, you’ll have to remove the wheel to do an inspection.

A quick road test will help you identify any unusual noises and shakes when driving. Listen for squealing brakes, feel for softness in the brake pad and watch for anything out of the ordinary. Aside from these common things you need to check, be sure to inspect whether your signals and lights are working properly, that the fluid levels are good and that your vehicle is overall in good condition. If you see any of the following warning signs, make sure to get your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop as soon as possible: 

- Grinding when applying brake pedal 

- The check engine sign is turned on 

- Red oil pressure signs on your dashboard 

- Any warning lights on the dashboard

- Red battery sign on dashboard

If you notice any of these warning signs, or you’d like to have a professional check up on your car before you get back to your daily routine, bring your car over to the auto repair pros at Modern Automotive. Our state-of-the-art facilities have the latest equipment and our experienced technicians can identify and fix any problem with your vehicle. Book your appointment today at (647) 370-9984. We service Toronto and the entire GTA, including Richmond Hill, Aurora, Vaughan, Brampton, King City and more!

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