Whether your car is fresh off the factory floor or a quickly-aging classic, performing a monthly vehicle inspection is a great practice that all drivers should follow. Pick a general day (the first, the fifteenth, etc.) and find a safe space to examine your ride, like your driveway or a sparsely populated parking lot.
Since this is where you spend most of your time with your vehicle, you’ve probably noticed any issues here. Still, it’s nice to use your monthly inspection to throw out any excess garbage and look for early signs of wear along your floor boards and upholstery seams. Most of these issues can be prevented or inhibited with custom floor liners and fitted seat covers.
Ensure all of your lights are operating correctly.
In park, you can turn on your headlights and high beams and step out of your vehicle to inspect. Turning on your hazard lights will give you an indication of which blinkers are working by illuminating them all at once. Walk the perimeter of your vehicle and insure each blinker is blinking.
Your brake lights and back-up lights are a little trickier to check on your own, but you can ask a friend to look for you. Another method of examining your brake lights and reverse lights is to find a storefront with floor to ceiling windows. If you can back into a parking space right up front after dark, it’s easy to glance in your rear-view mirror to see your rear lights.
Ensure your tires are in good shape.
You probably know the penny test will help you measure how much tread your tires have left, and whether they’re in need of replacement. Another tire-related item on your monthly checklist should be your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires with an appropriate amount of tread will improve your safety on the road, and your fuel efficiency.
Check sturdiness of any accessory mounting points.
If you have an accessory like a roof rack, bike rack, or snow plow you should ensure a safe mounting every time you use them, but your inspection is another chance to ensure that any hitch mounts, roof racks, or frame mounts are safe and secure. In the case of a plow you’ll also want to inspect the lift system and blade at the start of the season and always invest in the best snow plows available for better results.
Under the Hood
Check your fluids.
Antifreeze, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and wiper fluid are all good things to check out on a monthly basis. Many of these will have an easy to see level indicator somewhere under your hood, while others may require you to pull out a dipstick. Either way, you should always top off your fluids and never ignore a leak.
Always check your oil too. This is a big one, and many drivers check their oil level every time they gas up. While you may not have the time to check your oil at each gas station visit, you don’t want to skip this during your monthly inspection.
Give your belts a look.
While your user’s manual will tell you what mileage markers call for belt replacement, a monthly glance at your timing belt and serpentine belt won’t hurt. If you start to notice cracks or rot, you can consider changing them early.
As Ben Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This has never been more true than in regards to your vehicle.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to perform a monthly vehicle inspection, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.