If you’re unfamiliar with auto repair jargon, then you may find keeping up with your car maintenance a difficult task. For example, oil changes are one of the most common ways to maintain your vehicle—but did you know different makes and models require certain types of motor oil to keep your engine healthy (and not void your factory warranty)?
As an ASE-certified repair shop owner, I’ve worked with thousands of customers who struggled to understand the importance of maintenance, which as a result, experienced a breakdown. Oil changes do much more for your vehicle than just swap out dirty oil. Automotive technicians perform various checks to ensure your vehicle is in great shape and look for premature damage.
What Is Checked During an Oil Change?
A full-service oil change can include up to 5 quarts of your oil of choice, the installation of a new oil filter, and additional steps to ensure your vehicle is in top shape. To better understand what involves a full-service oil change, I’ve outlined the top steps performed.
Step 1: Change the Oil
Oil is essential for keeping moving parts in your engine lubricated, as well as cleaning it and keeping it cool. During a standard oil change, the mechanic first drains it to change your oil filter then. Once a new filter is installed, they replace the oil in line with your manufacturer’s recommendations.
You’re typically offered around three types of oil varying in viscosity (thickness) to add to your vehicle:
- Conventional oil – Derived from crude oil pulled from the ground and then refined in a factory.
- Full-synthetic motor oil – Made entirely in a factory but is more refined and known to be better for your engine.
- Synthetic blend oil – Includes synthetic and conventional oil to capture the benefits of both while reducing the drawbacks for each.
- High mileage oil – This is a more recent type of oil that improves overall performance in high-mileage vehicles.
When deciding which to go for, always refer to your owner’s manual. You may be tempted to spend the extra dollars on a new oil with additives, but it will not improve performance unless the manufacturer requires it.
Step 2: Check Your Air Filter
In addition to changing your oil, repair shops flag air filters that need replacing and give you a choice on whether or not you want a new one plopped in. You may not know that driving with a dirty or damaged air filter impacts your engine’s performance, blocking the flow of clean air and preventing fuel from burning correctly.
Over time, the air filter becomes less effective at performing its job at filtering clean air into the engine, which can then impact your car’s overall performance. Plus, if the ‘check engine’ light recently came on, but no significant issues are its cause, a clogged-up air filter may have triggered the signal.
Engine repairs can cost up to $4,000, and all repair shops want to ensure drivers feel confident when driving and not fearful a breakdown is on the verge of happening. If you’re on a tight budget, plans like EnduranceAdvantage™ can cover up to $50 towards your next oil and filter change.
Step 3: Check Your Coolant Levels
As you drive, antifreeze is pumped around your vehicle to help it maintain temperature, so it never gets too hot or cold to function.
Maintaining proper fluid levels also helps prevent corrosion. Your certified mechanic usually checks how much antifreeze is currently in your system and tops it up if needed.
There may be different variations of coolants to choose from, but you should always refer to your owner’s manual to know which to go with. Most coolants these days have specific colors tied to a certain car make, like Toyota which is typically red, and using the wrong kind can void your warranty.
Step 4: Check Your Power Steering Fluid
ASE-certified technicians also check your power steering fluid to see if it needs a top off. Steering fluid transfers power to the hydraulic systems your vehicle uses to make turning the steering wheel a cinch—without it, you’d need to hit the gym every day to be able to turn a corner. As with your antifreeze, technicians check your levels and top them up.
Step 5: Check Your Brake Fluid
When you apply pressure to your brake pedal, you apply pressure to your brake fluid. Because fluids are incompressible, the pressure is then transferred to your brakes, bringing your vehicle to a halt.
If your brake fluid is low, you have to apply much more pressure than usual to slow down, which can be very dangerous. Your mechanic will check your brakes’ sensitivity and add more fluid if required to ensure you’re driving safely.
Step 6: Check Your Chassis Lubrication
Some modern vehicles use ‘lifetime lubricated’ parts, but even then, it’s worth checking that they’re all in good shape.
Chassis lubrication involves looking at all the suspension bushings and joints, steering bars, sway joints, and U-joints. If needed, certain components will then be lubricated wherever required.
Step 7: Check Your Wiper Blade Health
Harsh driving conditions are challenging to navigate through, especially with worn windshield wipers. The mechanic checks your wipers’ health to determine whether or not you need to replace them soon.
When determining this, they look for any imperfections on the rubber which could damage your windshield over time.
Step 8: Check Washer Fluid Levels
Your windshield washer fluid is an equally important visibility aid at all times throughout the year. When you’re driving down the highway and hit a swarm of bugs, you’ll need to get them cleaned off quickly, so you don’t hit anything else. I always advise my technicians to check whether your washer fluid is full and top off when necessary.
Step 9: Check the Battery
If you’ve recently experienced a few times where your vehicle didn’t start on the first try, then you may need to check the health of your battery. Luckily, technicians make sure to do this for you during an oil change.
Depending on the findings they discover, you may be able to avoid dealing with a dead battery on the road by looking at the warning signs as early as possible.
Step 10: Check Your Tire Pressure
An advantage of properly inflated tires is that pressure is distributed evenly across the rubber, so they wear down slower and need replacing less frequently.
Another is that they have less drag, improving your vehicle’s overall fuel economy. The mechanic then checks your tires’ pressure and adds some air to bring them back up to your manufacturer’s recommended PSI.
Step 11: Check for Other Faults
The last step is a quick courtesy check for any hidden faults or repairs-in-waiting, so they don’t take you by surprise further down the line. Some repair shops may also perform a tire rotation or vehicle inspection to ensure your vehicle is in top shape before driving off.
If you’re having your full-service oil change carried out under your EnduranceAdvantage warranty and the mechanic finds something else that needs fixing, they can get the additional work signed off with a quick phone call. Once we’re done, you can drive away with total peace of mind.
Save on Your Next Oil Change with EnduranceAdvantage™
The best way to reduce the chances of a breakdown is by getting regular oil changes recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. By reading more on maintenance services and understanding what your car needs, you’re one step closer to feeling empowered when on the road.
Endurance offers vehicle protection plans that cover the cost of costly repairs and provides up to $3,500 in maintenance coverage with their newest plan, EnduranceAdvantage™.
All you have to do is visit any ASE-certified repair shop, present them your Endurance membership card, and Endurance takes care of the rest. Start saving thousands on repairs today by requesting a free, no-obligation quote.