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Apr 9, 2024

4 min. read

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For many new drivers, that licence is a ticket to freedom and an invitation to enjoy the open road. But the complex ins and outs of a vehicle may be intimidating. Here is some foundational knowledge to help build confidence on the road.

Those four tires are the only part of your car in direct contact with the road. Making certain they’re in top shape—and as high-quality as you can afford—should be a priority. Watch for obvious damage caused by road hazards and make sure they’re inflated to the recommended tire pressure. Keep an eye on the treads for any odd wear pattern, which could reduce traction and indicate an alignment problem.

This is the lifeblood of your vehicle— engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant are vital for your car to function properly. Drivers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles need to be familiar with key components under the hood. These include the filler cap and dipstick for engine oil and transmission fluid, as well as the coolant and windshield wiper fluid reservoirs. Find out where the battery is located and check it for signs of corrosion or bulging, especially if it’s more than three years old. Know how to read an engine oil dipstick or, at least, learn how to interpret dashboard indicators. And get into the habit of checking underneath your vehicle for any sign of fluid leaks.

A car’s dashboard is home to a host of crucial information. Some warning lights illuminate in yellow or amber as initial alerts—i.e., reminders to keep an eye out for certain issues to be mentioned to your mechanic at a future service appointment. Other alerts, which may light up in red, are critical indicators of potentially serious problems— check the owner’s manual for clarification. Many vehicles are now equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system —the typical TPMS image on a dashboard is a yellow tire-like icon with an exclamation point.

A clear view is imperative for safety on the road, so you should replace windshield wipers twice a year, before they wear out. Changing the windshield wipers is a relatively simple task (see QR code below). The counter assistant at your local parts store may offer to do it—watch closely and pick up a useful skill. Rely on your mechanic for oil changes, seasonal tire swaps and thorough maintenance checks. Finally, remember to refer to the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedule.

CTA: Watch the video. Scan the QR code to see our YouTube video on how to change wiper blades. And if you have any questions for our automotive experts, call 1-866-464-6448 or email autoadvice@caasco.ca.

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