Regularly performing basic maintenance checks on your automobile is one of the simplest things you can do to extend the life of your car, and could potentially save yourself from costly repairs down the road.  These simple steps can be completed by anyone and require very little time.

Photographs included throughout this guide may not exactly depict what you will see in your vehicle, however, the same general instructions should apply to almost all vehicles. Refer to the owner's manual for your vehicle for additional information.

The checks outlined in this Instructable may be performed in any order.  The recommended frequency for performing each of the checks is also provided.

Notice These steps do not replace your vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.  This guide should act as a supplement to the vehicle maintenance schedule outlined in the owner's manual for your vehicle.

Additionally, some steps require that you open the hood of the vehicle. Details on performing this task are provided in step one; however, you may need to refer to your vehicle owner's manual for additional information specific to your vehicle.

Step 1: Opening the Hood

Several of the checks mentioned in this Instructable require you to access areas underneath the hood of your vehicle. The owner's manual for your vehicle may be able to provide you with more specific instructions for performing this step; however, most common vehicles follow approximately this same procedure. If you are familiar with opening the hood of your vehicle, you may skip to Step 2.

Notice When working under the hood of a vehicle several precautions must be taken to avoid the risk of serious injury:
  • Do not work on a vehicle that has been recently operated, as many engine components will be very hot.
  • Keep hands clear of all moving components, even when the vehicle is off. Some vehicles are equipped with an electric fan that may operate even while the vehicle is off.
  • Keep all cigarettes and open flame sources away from the battery and fuel components due to the risk of fire or explosion.

Latch1. Release the Hood Latch
Ensure the vehicle is off and the parking brake is set. Locate and pull on the hood release handle inside the vehicle. This is often located underneath the instrument panel or near the driver's seat inside the vehicle. The hood should pop up slightly.
Release2. Release the Safety Catch and Open the Hood
Lift up on the hood and carefully slide your hand underneath. You should feel the safety latch, typically located near the center of the vehicle. Lift up on the safety latch and the hood should be free to lift up. The owner's manual for your vehicle should identify the specific location of the latch.
Prop3. Prop the Hood Open with the Prop Rod
Locate the prop rod and use it to secure the hood. An indicator will often be found on the bottom of the hood to indicate the correct location to place the prop rod. Additionally, some vehicles may be equipped with hydraulic hinges that do not require a prop rod to keep the hood open.


About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Senior in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University.
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