Auto Wellness Checkup - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jan 11, 2021

Auto Wellness Checkup

Use Our Comprehensive Auto Wellness Checkup Guide to Keep Your Vehicle Safe and in Pristine Condition!

For many people, having a vehicle is a necessity. It’s important to know that being proactive about the overall maintenance of your vehicle can significantly bring down repair costs as well as decrease the likelihood of an accident. Some maintenance issues are dangerous and can lead to accidents and injuries if ignored. Scheduling regular auto wellness checkups is the easiest way to ensure your vehicle's condition and safety. Read below to learn about the ways you can ensure your vehicle is running at its top performance. 


Fluid Changes

Checking the levels of the various fluids your vehicle needs is a critical part of your auto wellness checkup. 


1. Oil.  When your car is warm and on level ground, simply pull out the oil dipstick found under your hood and wipe it clean. Dip the stick back in, and then out after a moment. The oil residue should land between the two indent marks. You will want to take notice of the oil color as well. If the oil is dark or black, it is time for an oil change. If it’s light or gold, it should be good to go. It's best to check your oil level on a regular basis to avoid potential engine malfunctions. 


2. Transmission Fluid.  Too little or too much transmission fluid can result in some costly repairs if it causes your transmission to fail. This fluid should be changed periodically to ensure the gears run smoothly. Similarly, to checking oil, withdrawing the dipstick from the reservoir will indicate how much fluid is left. Your dipstick might have two markings for "full"—one warm, one cold. If the transmission fluid level does not come up to the "warm" line, you'll need to add automatic transmission fluid. This fluid should be red. If the color is dark or black, it should be changed as soon as possible.


3. Radiator Coolant.  It’s a good idea to keep extra coolant (and really, any other fluid your vehicle needs) in the trunk of your car in case of emergency. Coolant or antifreeze is necessary to keep your vehicle from overheating or from freezing.  


4. Windshield Wiper Fluid. Winter weather can cause you to run through windshield wiper fluid pretty quickly. You’ll want to check this often, especially if you live in an area like Upstate New York, where roads are heavily salted during the winter. The rock salt can create dust and cause your windshield to become extremely cloudy. Keeping an extra container of windshield wiper fluid in the truck of your vehicle can come in handy. 


5. Power Steering Fluid. Driving without the proper amount of power steering fluid can become extremely dangerous as it will make your steering wheel harder to control. If the wheel of your vehicle is becoming difficult to turn, this can indicate that your power steering fluid is low. Like your oil, transmission fluid, and coolants, this is something that you can easily check yourself.  You might consider setting a reminder on your calendar or phone to check these fluids at the beginning of each month. 


The Lights

Lights that are not properly functioning on your vehicle are extremely dangerous.  You’ll want to make sure you are checking your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and reverse lights on a regular basis.  These lights let other drivers know what you are doing while on the road and can prevent accidents. You may even be ticketed if your lights are not functioning properly. 


The Tires

There are two main concerns when it comes to inspecting your tires: the tire pressure and the tread. You may opt to purchase a tire pressure gauge as an easy way to monitor your tire pressure.  Oftentimes, gas stations will have tire pressure gauges and air pumps available as well, and sometimes free of charge! It’s important to be aware that deflated tires can cause blowouts while driving, which in turn can cause accidents or injury. 


Similarly, because your tires rely on the tread to give you traction on the road, they are extremely important to maintain.  Being proactive and inspecting for signs of wear and tear on your tires is vital. Any bulges, lumps, or low tread can indicate that it is time to replace the tire. Keep in mind that rotating your tires every 6 months or 6,000 miles will give your tires a chance to even out that wear and tear as well as extend their life use. 


A great way to test the tread of your tire is by using the penny test. To learn how to test the tread of your tire using only a penny, click here


The Brakes

Having your brakes checked regularly by a professional can keep you and your car safe on the road. If you are starting to hear screeching or squealing when driving, this is a strong indication that your brake pads need to be replaced.  Neglecting to replace your brake pads can cause them to wear down to the rotor, which will quickly lead to further damage.


Windshield Wiper Blades

Another item that can easily be inspected are your windshield wipers.  If you notice that your wiper blades seem to be doing a better job smearing the muck around your windshield than clearing it, it’s probably time to replace them.  While these can be easy to replace, many auto part stores will change them for you for free when you purchase the new set. While inspecting your windshield wipers, you can take a look at the overall condition of your windshield as well. Be sure that it is clean and clear of any cracks.


Safety Preparedness Kit

Keeping an emergency kit in the back seat or trunk of your car is an easy way to be even more prepared in unexpected situations.  A first aid kit, bottled water, energy bars, medication, jumper cables, blankets, flashlights and a tool kit are just a few examples of what should go in your kit. You can even purchase premade kits online or in hardware stores for a quick solution.



Keeping documents handy and up to date in your vehicle is another important step in your auto wellness checkup. You’ll want to make sure that your inspections and registrations are up to date as well as your insurance information and cards. You should store copies of these in a waterproof folder inside your glove compartment for safe keeping. 


Some vehicles may need more maintenance than others and individual vehicles should have specific maintenance instructions posted from the manufacturer or can be found online through the manufacturer website.  Keeping your car in good condition will not only maximize its lifetime but also keep you and others safe while on the road. 


With winter weather upon us, you might be interested in winterizing your vehicle. Check out the link below to learn more!