Next time you’re waiting around for the gas to finish pumping at the gas station, take the time to run through this list of simple maintenance checks. This will help to prevent breakdowns and will extend the life of your car. Whether you are pumping your own gas or having an attendant pump gas for you, this is the perfect opportunity to take a walk around your car and do some checks. Remember to pop the hood before you get out of the car. This lever is usually around your knees or on the floor in the drivers side of the vehicle, there should be details on the location in the owners manual. We also suggest switching on your lights before you get out the car so that you can check that they are working too.

Get out of your car and lets start walking around.

Check The Car Tires

As you walk around your car, check the tires for obvious signs of wear or damage. Worn or damaged tires will need to be replaced or repaired at a dealership as soon as possible to prevent a potential accident. Look for any nails, screws or pieces of metal which may have worked themselves into the tire.

Next check the tire pressure. You can check the pressure with a handheld pressure gauge available from a car maintenance or outdoor shop or you can use the pressure gauge on the inflators at the gas station. Ask an attendant to check the tire pressure for you if you’re unsure, they will usually do it for free.

Check Under the Hood

When you get to the front of the car, open up the hood. Once you have popped the hood from inside the car, there is usually another catch which prevents the hood from opening if the lever is pulled by mistake or not closed correctly. Side your hand under the hood until you feel the lever and then pull it or slide it across to unlatch the hood. Pull the hood up and use the stand to hold it up, some hoods stay up by themselves. If you have any trouble finding the catch or standing the hood up, check the owner’s manual.

First check the battery. Some batteries have a hydrometer (a clear bulb or window) which shows up green when fully charged, yellow when empty and red when damaged. If you have been driving for a while and the battery is not fully charged then there may be a problem with the battery or the alternator. You should have the battery tested at a local battery fitment centre. Also check the terminals for any signs of corrosion (white deposits).

Now check the fluids, particularly the coolant, brake fluid and washer fluid levels. The coolant is usually in a clear bottle in the front near the radiator, the brake fluid is usually a smaller reservoir near the back of the engine and the washer fluid is a large bottle down one side. All of these should have a level indicator on them and details on what product to use will be available in the owners manual.

Lastly check the oil level. There should be a dipstick on one side of the engine block. Pull it out, wipe it off with a piece of tissue and insert it again. Wait a few seconds before pulling it out and check the level. Top up if required.

Check The Lights & Lenses

Lastly, continue your walk around and check if the lights are all working and that none of the lenses are cracked or broken. In some areas you may be fined for driving with a cracked or damaged light. If any lights are not working, it is most likely the bulb that has blown. You can buy a spare at an automotive parts dealer and it is quite easy to change them out yourself.

That’s it, pay for your fuel and you’re ready to go. These simple checks take a few minutes to perform and may help you to one day catch a problem before it turns into a vehicle breakdown or an accident.

Do you have any additional checks which you perform¬†when you’re waiting for gas? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cover Image: Gas Pump by Mike Mozart used under CC BY 2.0