Many of us may have been neglecting our vehicles during this MCO as we are not allowed to travel further than 10km from our homes, and even then only when necessary.
However, even though service centres and workshops are closed, there are several things that you can do to ensure that your vehicle remains in good condition during the MCO, such as performing a 5-point vehicle inspection at home.
So, let us jump straight into the things you need to check as part of the 5-point inspection:
Keeping the fluids at the optimum level will help your car drive better. There are five types of fluids that you need to pay attention to - engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer.
The most critical is the engine oil. Components within the engine spin thousands of revolutions a minute, and it’s the engine oil that keeps everything moving smoothly. To check if there is sufficient engine oil, most cars have a dipstick in the engine bay which is usually yellow in colour and the handle looks like a ring. Ensure the engine is turned off, pull the dipstick out, wipe off any oil with a clean cloth, and repeat this one more time for an accurate reading.
And then we have the radiator coolant, which prevents the engine from overheating by channelling heat from the engine to the radiator. Coolant is usually stored in a white see-through plastic container towards the front of the engine bay to make it easier to visually check how much coolant is present.
Another essential fluid is the brake fluid, which is responsible for moving the various components of your vehicle’s brake system. Checking the level of brake fluid is simple. Look for a white canister towards the back of the engine bay, closer to the cabin. Usually the cover is identified by a circle in a parenthesis. If the canister is see-through, it’s easier to visually inspect it, otherwise, you could just remove the cap to see how much fluid is inside. Ensure that the engine is turned off and that the vehicle has had time to cool down before removing the cap.
Let’s not forget about the power steering system. Most modern cars are equipped with a hydraulic-assisted steering system that makes steering a lot easier at any speed. To check the power steering fluid, look for the reservoir in the engine bay. It’s usually easy to spot because more often than not, the cap is labelled with the words “Power Steering”. Otherwise, look for the steering wheel icon. Some cars have a semi-transparent reservoir for you to easily check on the amount fluid left, whilst others have a dip stick installed inside the cap.
Last but not least, there’s the windshield washer fluid. Make sure it’s topped up so your windscreen remains clean to give you a clear view of the road ahead.
The car battery has a vital role in running the electrical components in our cars. Other than starting our car regularly to ensure the alternator recharges the battery, we should always ensure that battery clamps are tight, clean and free from corrosion.
Physical examination of the car battery is essential to identify any cracks. Firstly, you can check if there is any bulge on the surface of the battery. Next, check the battery clamps for any signs of corrosion.
Keep track of when you changed the battery by writing it down in your owner’s manual. Alternatively, if you have a voltmeter at home, it is advisable to check the battery voltage occasionally. Anything below 14v when the engine has started means you have a weak battery. It’s also a good idea to get your alternator checked at a later date if you’re getting a reading lower than that.
The next thing you need to check are the lights. Ensure the headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signal lights are all working before you head out from home. A trick to checking the rear lights is to park close to a wall and use the rear-view mirrors to see if they work properly. If any of your lights are dim, it could be an indication of a bulb reaching its end, so it’s best to get that bulb replaced at the nearest SC once the MCO is lifted.
The tyres of your car are akin to shoes and when they are in good condition, it ensures your safety and those on the road. The first thing to look out for are any cuts, tears or bulges. At the same time, look out for tyres that are flatter than the others. If this happens, you should inflate the tyres. But do so only if you absolutely have to head out for essential goods.
The next thing to look out for is your tyre pressure. Ideally, you can check the tyre pressure with a pressure gauge. The correct tyre pressure setting can be found in your car manual or on the driver’s door frame. The recommended tyre pressure is different for each car – there’s no one-size-fits-all figure. Using an underinflated or overinflated tyre is dangerous as it will cause uneven wear and result in you changing your tyres sooner.
Another important thing to be aware of are your tyre’s treads. Every tyre is equipped with treadwear indicators between the centre grooves. Designed to help you monitor tread depth, these indicators are spaced evenly and positioned parallel to the grooves. If the tread is flushed with the indicators, it’s time to replace the tyre.
5. Wiper blades
Windshield wipers are vital to keeping you safe on the road. As we use them, the wiper blades will gradually become hard and brittle, causing streaks that reduces visibility on your windshield when in use. To check if your wiper blades are functioning perfectly, you can switch on the wiper washer function, as soon as you notice the wipers are not providing a clear sweep, but leaving streaks or emitting squeaking noises, it means you should have your wiper blades replaced after the MCO is over. Other than lifting up the windshield wipers when parked under a hot sun, you can also gently wipe the blade with a damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt or oil to extend the life of the wiper blades.
And that’s about it folks. The primary reason for performing this 5-point vehicle inspection is to ensure every vital component of your car works properly to keep you, your family, and others safe on the roads, regardless of the MCO or otherwise.