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Maintenance Check: Everything But the Engine
By Wayne Scraba/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyEasy
Estimated Time120 minutes
120 minutes
Lights & Horn
Before venturing anywhere, you should go over all light/lamp functions. Turn on the headlights. Check park lamps; high and low beam lamps and the license plate light. Next, check the turn signals (all four corners) and follow up with an inspection of the emergency flashers. With help (or with the vehicle backed up against a wall where you can see the lights), apply the foot brake and check the brake lights. Finally, place the vehicle in reverse (with the park brake on) and check the back up lights. If any bulbs are burned out, or if there is a lighting problem, it’s obviously time for a repair. Next up, simply tap the horn. It does work, doesn’t it? If not, have a mechanic repair it.

Check All Lights - Including low and high beams, turn signals, brake lights, emergency flashers, back up lights, license plate light and if equipped fog and driving lamps.

Check All Vehicle Lights
Windshield Wipers
Test the wiper operation. It’s a good idea to mist the windshield with water or washer fluid prior to testing their operation. Check the high and low speed functions and at the same time, test the operation of the washer system.
Turn the wipers off and inspect the windshield wiper blades for wear, cracking and/or contamination. Worn blades should be replaced. To clean wiper blades, simply wipe with a lint free cloth or paper towel soaked in windshield washer fluid or a mild detergent (for example, car wash soap). Wash the windshield thoroughly when cleaning the blades. Wiper blades can be damaged by extreme dust conditions, heat and sun, sand and salt and by snow and ice.

Wiper Blades - Carefully inspect and clean the wiper blades. If a blade is suspect, replace it.

Inspect the Wiper Blades
Should blade replacement be required, consult the owner’s manual. Different cars mandate different types of replacement procedures. Similarly, replacement blades sometimes come in different formats and removed and installed in different ways.
Park Brake
Park the vehicle on a relatively steep incline (in a remote location). With the vehicle nose pointing downhill, and your foot on the service brake, set the park brake. Keep the engine running, and shift the transmission into neutral. Slowly remove your foot from the service brake. The park brake should hold the vehicle. If the vehicle moves, then it’s time to have the park brake system serviced.

Set and Test the Park Brake - The preceding paragraph details a safe method of determining park brake operation.

Test the Park Brake
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