Car Maintainance Tips

Under the Bonnet

Engine oil: when checking make sure that the car is on a flat surface (level) and the engine is cold. The dipstick is marked either low/high or maximum/minimum to give you a fair indication about your oil levels and when topping up is required. Usually the difference of oil between the marks is approximately one quart. You should always top up never letting it reach below markings, and never overfill.

The Coolant level can be observed from the expansion bottle ( High /Low)

Radiator: never open the cap when engine is running or hot. You can be burnt badly with the hot liquid.

Brake fluid reservoir is usually a plastic bottle with the defined High /Low markings.

Power steering fluid is checked using the dipstick (High/Low)

Battery: this is visibly checked after unscrewing the 6 caps, just top cells up with distilled water, never overfill. Do not use tap water in battery.

Transmission fluid level can be checked at operating temperature at the fuel/service station prior to filling up with dip stick (High/Low)

All identifiable under the bonnet checks except transmission fluid can be done prior to start of vehicle on mornings.

Oil leakage are visible under the car-transmission fluid is red and less viscous and engine oil is black and more viscous.

At the Fuel/Service Station

Ensure the vehicle has right gas either premium unleaded or super unleaded is being pumped into the tank, as well as to ensure that the cap is placed back on the gas tank.


Tyre inflation: inflation rates are usually in metric (bars) or English (lbs/square inch). This should be checked when tyres are cold at least every two weeks according to manufacturers specification.

Replacement tyres: should be at manufacturers specification as well.


Exhaust/Muffler: for a car with air-conditioning it is imperative the exhaust system has no leaks, since carbon monoxide, a residue of the car is a silent killer, which has no scent. If there is a leak it will seep back into the vehicle making passengers/driver alike sleepy.

It is not advisable to leave the air conditioning running while car is at standstill especially when there are children in vehicle.

The Catalytic Converter

The Catalytic Con-verter: most new cars and foreign used cars come with this feature. It is a pollution arrester and these must be checked by the dealer periodically to ensure that they are working.


The blades of wipers should preferably be replaced with originals from the manufacturers since they last longer and wipe cleaner.


These are just some of the checks you can assess yourself, but remember if your vehicle were poorly maintained then it would be expected that things would go wrong. A good practice to develop is having routine checks at your manufactures service centre or technician shop every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres. Servicing includes checking of the cooling system, electrical and clutch fans, water pumps, tyres thread wear, radiator, oil (just to name a few).

You must bear in mind there are symptoms when something goes wrong with your vehicle, so pay attention if any unusual noises are heard, steering pull and abnormal thread wear. Always keep the phone numbers for wrecking service, your manufactures agent or your service technician in the car in event of any emergencies on the road. You should check your insurance agent for road side assistance plan.

Edited and courtesy Trinidad, Express Mix, Magazine, Sunday, March 28th 2004; The above article was actually for female drivers on how to maintain cars but I modified it for both genders of drivers.

Looking after your vehicle-to look after you
By Cherisse Moe T'dad Guardian, Saturday 6th September ,2008

So, you're cruising down the road in your fancy car, the music's pumping and the wheels spinning. Things are going great…and "jus so," you hear a strange sound, the car buckles… and… whoops… it comes to a smokey abrupt stop leaving you sitting there with a chorus of horns blaring behind you. You suddenly turn a shade of crimson and the voice in your head begins to ask these questions: Did you check your oil? Does your vehicle have enough water? Is your battery in good condition? Unfortunately, you don't have any of the answers. Well, for those of you who have experienced this or something like this, this article is a must read.

Maintaining your vehicle

Even for the driver who has minimum knowledge of anything mechanical (myself included), there are several measures which can be taken to ensure your vehicle is in satisfactory condition so you are protected on the road. So says Director of the Board of the T&T Automobile Association, Rawle Mahabir. Taking care of your vehicle is imperative because it can help save your life, as well as the lives of those in the vehicle with you.

Check your tyres

"Tyres are the first things you should check when you approach your vehicle. Ensure that they are not under-inflated or in need of pressure," said Mahabir. "Generally, tyres loose a bit of pressure over time, and once you see a larger than normal bulge where the tyre meets the road, you should check the pressure and inflate it to the manufacturer's specifications. Today, nitrogen is available to pressure tyres. It needs less regular attention and also has other positive benefits."

Enough oil?

"Ensure your car has adequate oil. If you park your car and observe that oil is dripping, it means the engine is loosing oil. This is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage," Mahabir warned. "The warning on the instrument panel alerts the driver to a low oil level. However, this warning can appear when the oil is too low which might be too late." If you do observe that oil is leaking from your vehicle, immediately pull to the side of the road and switch off. Failure to do so, will cause extreme damage to the engine. Mahabir advises drivers to look for the dipstick in the engine compartment to check the oil level, which he says, should generally be just below the high level mark. Drivers should check their oil levels once per week.

Check your battery

Mahabir advised: "Always check to see if the water level in the battery is high. If it's extremely low, top it up with distilled water." He said drivers should check this weekly. "The battery clamp should hold the battery firmly in place to ensure it does not bounce around or its terminal does not come into contact with any other metal parts within the engine compartments."

Brake Fluid-vital

Do check your brake fluid reservoir. "The brake fluid flows through the braking system to the four wheels of the vehicle. The brake fluid level should be just below the high level mark," noted Mahabir. If however, you realise you need to 'top up' regularly, Mahabir says this could mean there is a leak in the braking system. Visit your mechanic immediately. If left unchecked, the engine will shut down completely and will no doubt have you digging deep into your pockets.

Adequate water

"Generally, the marking on the water bottle for the engine should be between the high and low mark. Check the indicator on the dashboard for the engine temperature, which normally stays below the half mark. However, if it is close to the "hot" indicator your engine is overheating-which can cause severe engine damage. If this happens, pull to the side of the road, switch off and check the water bottle for the engine coolant," said Mahabir. Do learn how to take care of your vehicle after all it takes care of you. Female drivers you are not exempt!

Essential tools ….every driver should have these basic tools in their vehicle in case of emergency:
Jumper cables
Flat and Phillip-head screwdrivers
Spare tyre

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