Regular maintenance makes your vehicle safer and more reliable. While it may cost a bit of money in the short term, the advantages of regular maintenance over the long term make it a worthwhile investment (improved fuel efficiency, higher resale value, fewer costly repairs, etc.).
If you feel a vibration or hear an unusual sound when braking, you should make sure that all of the braking system’s components are in good condition.
Yearly maintenance is recommended and should include cleaning, applying lubricant to and adjusting all moving parts. This will not only ensure your brakes continue to function properly, but will also make them last longer.
When changing the brake pads, make sure the new pads are the same grade as the ones you are replacing to keep the same braking performance.
Be sure to use the parking brake regularly to keep it in good working order. This will help prevent any of its parts from seizing or sticking.
Regularly check your tires for wear. A simple visual inspection can tell you what condition they are in.
Here are some examples of abnormal tire wear:
If your tires are underinflated, you will see more wear on both edges of the tire tread, whereas if they are overinflated, there will be more wear in the middle of the tire tread. Check your tire pressure regularly. For more information, refer to the Tires: Check Their Pressure section.
Wear on just one edge of the tire tread may mean that your wheels need to be realigned.
Uneven tire wear (bald spots) is usually caused by your tires being out of balance or a bent or worn-out suspension component. If your tire is deformed, you need to replace it as soon as possible.
Make sure that your tire tread depth meets accepted standards. Tire tread depth should not be less than 1.6 mm (2/32 in) for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 4,500 kg. Furthermore, none of the tread wear indicators should be in contact with the road surface. For more information, refer to the Winter Tires: Safe Winter Driving section.
Tire quality affects grip, rolling noise and lifespan. When in doubt, ask an expert.
Excessive fluid consumption could be a sign that one of the system components is defective. Adding more fluid may be a temporary solution, but it won’t fix the underlying problem.
Some manufacturers provide guidelines for normal oil consumption over a given distance (for example, 1 litre per 6,000 km). Regularly check the oil level and make sure it never falls below the minimum mark.
Periodically change the fluids in your vehicle. Some components, such as the oil filter, must also be changed in order to ensure maximum filtration and maintain the validity of the manufacturer’s warranty.
Various belts are critical to the smooth operation of your vehicle’s essential mechanical components (engine, alternator, power steering, etc.). A broken belt can cause serious damage and lead to costly repairs.
Have the belts replaced at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. When servicing your vehicle’s belts, also have their various related components checked (belt tensioners, bearings, pulleys, etc.) in order to detect any issues. Replace any defective parts while you’re at it.
If your vehicle tends to pull to one side when driving, if you hear a grinding sound at low or medium speed, or if you hear suspicious knocking sounds when you hit bumps, you need to have your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems inspected.
Driving a vehicle with faulty wheel bearings or excessive play in a ball joint is a risky gamble that can have serious consequences. Any defective parts must be replaced as soon as possible, because this issue could lead to the loss of a wheel.
Before heading out, make sure all your vehicle’s headlights and lights, including its daytime running lights, are working properly and have maintained their original brightness. Regular inspections are recommended.
While a burned-out headlight or light may seem minor, it can have many consequences. In some cases, it may cause other road users to misread a situation.
Here are a few ways to check whether your headlights and lights are working properly:
Even if your lights are working, their brightness may be affected by lenses that have become cloudy or discoloured, or that are covered in snow, mud, etc. If this is the case, your ability to see when driving after dark could be greatly diminished. Before heading out, make sure your headlights are clean and free of any obstructive material. For more information about lenses that have become more opaque over time, refer to the Headlights: Have Them Polished section.
Get into the habit of always turning on your headlights and lights whenever you start your vehicle. At night, or when it is dark out, the dashboard on certain vehicles automatically lights up when the vehicle is started. You may therefore mistakenly think that your other lights are also on, when this is not the case. If you drive without turning on your other lights, your vehicle will not be very visible to other road users.
While many vehicles are now equipped with systems that automatically control the headlights and other lights, you should still check to make sure your vehicle’s lights are on when it is dark out.
Many vehicles are equipped with a green indicator light on the dashboard that lights up when the vehicle’s low beams are on. It is important not to mistake this light for the high beam indicator light.
If you notice that the blue indicator light shown below is lit up on your dashboard, that means that your high beams are on. If you are driving in an urban setting or meet another vehicle, make sure your high beams are off by switching to your low beams.
Before driving off, make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir. Not all vehicles have an indicator light on the dashboard that lights up when the level of windshield washer fluid is low.
Also check the effectiveness of the vehicle’s windshield wiper blades. If they leave streaks and uncleared spots on your windshield, it’s time to replace the wiper blades.
To see through your windshield as well as possible, it is recommended that you change your windshield wiper blades at least once a year. You may need to replace them more often, depending on weather conditions and the number of kilometres you travel. Be sure to always replace the old blades with new blades of the correct length for your vehicle’s make and model.
If your vehicle seems to be less fuel efficient, or if there is a bad smell coming from the air vents, check your air filters.
Like the oil filter, the air filters must be replaced regularly.
Replacing air filters ensures that you continue to benefit from their many advantages, including greater fuel efficiency, improved performance of the heating and defrosting systems, and fewer bad smells coming out of the ventilation system.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended vehicle maintenance schedule, which can be found in the owner manual. Some manufacturers also provide tools and documents to help you properly schedule regular maintenance.
Returning a leased vehicle: charges for neglected maintenance
While normal wear and tear is to be expected when you return a leased vehicle, you may be subject to additional charges in order to compensate for excess wear and tear should you have neglected to perform regular maintenance on the vehicle.
Basic regular maintenance will not only make your vehicle safer and more reliable, it will also help you avoid extra charges when you return a leased vehicle. It’s a good investment, no matter how you look at it!