Introduction: Daily Vehicle Checkout

Inspecting your vehicle daily is the best way to prolong the life of your vehicle. Checking for minor defects or indicators that maintenance is required can diagnose problems early on, improving the quality of performance in the long run. With a better-kept vehicle, the safety of you and your passengers is dramatically improved.

What You Will Need:

  1. A vehicle
  2. Shop towels


Ensure the vehicle is turned off, in park, and the brake is set prior to inspecting the vehicle. Avoid contact with battery terminals to minimize risk of electrocution. Take caution if engine has been recently shut off, as it can be HOT. Wait several hours until it has cooled completely prior to inspecting the vehicle. The author is not a professional mechanic, and does not claim responsibility for injuries sustained in association with daily vehicle checkout. If the reader has any questions or doubts in their ability to perform these steps prior to completing the tasks listed below, they are advised to reference their vehicle's owner's manual, or seek the help of a professional mechanic. Claims made within this presentation are not guarantees of the author or their associated university or employment.

Step 1: Inspect the Body

Inspect the entire outside appearance of the vehicle. Check for dents or scratches, abnormalities, or objects that are missing or broken.

Step 2: Check Your Tires

Inspect tires for adequate pressure, gouges, or objects stuck in the tread. Ensure valve stem caps are tightly secure, so they don’t get lost during vehicle operation.

Step 3: Check the Oil

Pop the hood of the vehicle. Locate the oil dipstick and battery terminals. Pull the oil dipstick completely out, wipe the oil off with a shop towel, re-insert the stick completely, and pull it back out to inspect the level of oil within the engine. The oil residue on the stick should be visible between the lower and upper holes located in the bottom portion of the stick. Replace the dipstick into its receptacle.

Step 4: Inspect the Battery

Inspect the battery terminal and remove the red plastic cover indicated with a “+”. Without contacting the terminal, inspect it for corrosion, damage, cable connectivity, or foreign objects. Replace the plastic protective cover and close engine hood.

Step 5: Do the Lights Work?

Have a second person depress the brake pedal in the cabin of the vehicle, while you check that all taillights illuminate at the rear of the vehicle.

Step 6: Start Your Engines!

Start the vehicle, ensuring that there is no delay or presence of unfamiliar sounds associated with ignition. Your vehicle is ready for daily use and operation.

Step 7: Do It Everyday

Inspecting your vehicle every day only takes moments to complete, but will result in a longer vehicle life with less emergency maintenance. Follow these simple steps to ensure the safety and ease of operation of your vehicle for many years to come!