MECHANICAL VEHICLE INSPECTIONS
by Jim Miller
The following list is a recommended mechanical vehicle inspection that should be done on a routine basis, perhaps at each oil change interval. You should refer to your owners manual for recommended service intervals.
Inspect the drive belts for the correct tension and wear. Worn belts will appear glazed (shinny) and may be cracked on the inside drive surface. A properly tensioned belt will have 1/2″ – 1″ of defelection at the center of its greatest span. Some vehicles use serpentine belts that use automatic tensioners. A serpentine belt is a wide belt that has ribs on the inside surface and is used to drive several accessories. These belts are automatically tensioned.
Inspect the hoses and clamps. Hoses should be flexible and free from cracks, abrasions or swelling. Inspect the ends of the hoses for leakage. Retighten the hose clamps as necessary.
Inspect the air filter for contamination. Replace as needed. Never blow out an air filter using compressed air. This will remove the tiny particles from the filter media which is used to trap the dirt in the filter, preventing it from entering the engine. Air filter life is usually dependant on driving conditions.
Inspect the water level if the battery is equipped with removable cell covers. Inspect the terminals for corrosion and clean as necessary. A solution of baking soda and water should be used to clean the top of the battery and the terminals. Never put this solution into the battery cells.
Inspect the head lamps, high beams, turn signals, parking lamps and brake lamps.
Replace at manufactures recommended service interval. The timing belt is one of the most common items overlooked and will cause the engine to stall and will prevent the engine from restarting. Some engines can experience severe damage if the timing belt breaks. If you are unsure if the belt has been changed, you should inspect it or replace it to prevent the possibility of breakage. Replacing the timing belt can be an involved job and may require special tools. The timing belt resides behind a protective cover and cannot be visually inspected without the removal of the covers and the belts in front of the covers.
CV BOOTS (Front Wheel Drive Vehicles)
Inspect the CV boots at each oil change. If torn or cracked they should be replaced. For more information on CV joints and boots, refer to the transmission and drivetrain section of this website.
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