Things You Can Check Before Bringing Your Vehicle in for Service

January 13th, 2023 by

A person is shown checking the oil during a Crest Hill Nissan service.

Vehicle maintenance is an ongoing process. If you have a gas-powered vehicle, you’ll have to keep it well-oiled, well-maintained, and in good running shape if you want to get the maximum mileage out of it without tons of costs for repairs and replacements. Sure, every vehicle will need some part replacement at some point in its life, but proper maintenance and care can stave off any costly service if you care for your vehicle.

For those looking for exceptional Crest Hill Nissan service, we welcome you to visit us here at Thomas Nissan of Joliet for all your maintenance and repair needs. Before you even schedule to have your vehicle serviced, there are a few basics you can do on your own to save time, money, and headaches when it comes to maintaining your car, truck, or SUV. Allow us to give you a quick rundown of some of the basic items you can check on your vehicle, so you have an idea of when a good time is to bring your vehicle in for maintenance.

How to Check the Engine Oil

Engine oil is extremely important for the functionality of a vehicle. It ensures that the components within the engine bay stay lubricated and the engine stays functioning as it should. The oil also prevents the components from easily overheating and breaking down under continuous use. One of the most common forms of checking the health of your vehicle is checking the engine oil. Nissan makes this relatively easy for all of their vehicles, whether you have a Nissan Altima, Versa, Murano, or Frontier. There are a few easy steps you can take to check the oil and ensure that your vehicle’s engine components are well-lubricated.

First and foremost, you’ll need to pop the hood so you can see into the engine bay. There should be a hood latch inside the cabin on the lower-left driver’s side. However, not every vehicle is made the same and the latch’s exact position can be found in the owner’s manual of the vehicle in case you’re unsure where it is. Be sure to press the safety catch at the front of the hood to fully open it. Once the hood is popped, you’ll want to keep it propped up.

You’ll usually find that there is a hood prop rod often located on the far left or far right side of the engine bay when facing the front of the vehicle. Once again, if you’re unsure where the prop rod is, you can refer to the owner’s manual for the exact location. Once the hood is up, you’ll find a yellow stick handle next to or near the main engine block; this is the oil dipstick. It may have the label “Engine Oil” on it, so you can easily identify it.

Remember that you sometimes need to let the engine run for a few minutes and then cool down before checking the oil. The owner’s manual will inform you about the specific protocols for checking the engine oil for your specific Nissan model. When you pull the dipstick out, you’ll need to wipe it off and re-insert it for several seconds. When you pull it out again, it should show a reading of how much oil is in the vehicle with indicator marks on the stick. If the oil mostly shows up at the lower end of the marks on the stick, then it may be time to get your oil changed at a service center like ours here at Thomas Nissan of Joliet. If it’s closer to the higher-end marks on the stick (sometimes labeled as L for low and H for high), it means you have plenty of oil left in the vehicle.

A person is shown checking the coolant during a Crest Hill Nissan service.

How to Check Coolant/Washer Fluids

Antifreeze or engine coolant is used to keep your engine temperature regulated. It’s an important part of maintaining your vehicle and can help reduce wear and tear on the powertrain. You can check the coolant levels while also checking the engine oil levels by looking for the coolant reservoir, typically located very visibly next to the engine itself. If you’re unsure where the reservoir is or how to locate it, the vehicle owner’s manual, or a certified Nissan mechanic like the ones at Thomas Nissan of Joliet, can help you locate it.

Some coolant reservoirs will have labels on the tanks that indicate where their optimal fluid levels should be. It may have wording or lettering on the tank that indicates fill levels. If it’s not visible on the tank, you can still refer to the owner’s manual for the optimal coolant levels for your Nissan. You can also check to see if the coolant is working as intended by checking the radiator. Keep in mind that it’s important to wear gloves while doing so. The radiator is located at the front of the engine bay, and there is a radiator cap to indicate where you can check the coolant levels in the radiator. Be sure to never open the radiator cap while the cap or the engine is hot, as it can result in the coolant spilling out and possibly causing injury.

If the cap temperature feels cool or normal to the touch, you can go ahead and unscrew it to check if coolant is making its way into the radiator. If so, then you’re all good to go on the coolant. If it needs a top-off, you can schedule to have it done at our service center. You can also check the washer fluid in your Nissan since it’s usually located near the coolant reservoir. Nissan vehicles typically have very easy-to-identify washer fluid reservoir tubes thanks to the cap on the tube, which should have a washer-fluid logo on it. In some cases, the washer fluid reservoir may not be very visible inside the engine bay of the Nissan you own, so you may be unable to tell exactly where the washer fluid levels are. If that’s the case, you can still see if there is washer fluid visible in the reservoir tube where the cap is located. If the fluid is low or none is visible in the washer tube, you can have it topped off to be on the safe side.

Checking the Brakes on Your Nissan

Just because you don’t see a warning light for the brakes doesn’t mean you’re in the clear when it comes to your brakes’ lifespan. You may need to get the brakes checked or see if your Nissan has a proper amount of brake fluid. Without brake fluid, your brakes won’t work, and it could cause serious trouble on the road. Like the wiper fluid and coolant, you’ll also find the brake fluid in a reservoir within the engine bay. The brake fluid may be in a small container and indicate what grade of fluid is required for your Nissan. If you’re unsure where the brake fluid reservoir is located or how to locate it, you can always check the owner’s manual or ask one of the mechanics at our service center.

Even if you have enough brake fluid in your vehicle, you may still want to check the responsiveness of your brakes. If the pedal sticks, you find that it’s too loose, or if you find that the calipers aren’t very responsive, it could spell trouble on the road. Working brakes are extremely important, and even though there’s no easy way to tell what the brake pad wear is like without taking off the wheel, you can still check the brake fluid and the brake pedal responsiveness as a basic gauge for brake performance. Of course, if you notice that the vehicle is slow to respond to depressing the brake pedal or you notice it sticks, we offer great brake service, as you may need to have the brake lines checked, or you could require new brake pads or rotors.

A person is shown checking the tire pressure in a vehicle.

Checking Your Tire Pressure

Another basic form of maintenance is checking your tire pressure. This is one of the simplest and most important forms of basic vehicle maintenance because poor tire pressure can lead to misalignment, flats, and possibly worse fuel economy. There are a lot of potential negative effects associated with poor tire pressure, so it’s important to keep your tires properly filled and ensure they don’t have leaks.

Newer Nissan vehicles come with tire pressure monitoring systems with the Easy-Fill Alert, making it easier to maintain the tire pressure on your vehicle. With the digital driver display on most vehicles, you can easily use the gauge to check the tire pressure on the vehicle and compare that to the recommended cold tire pressure label that comes with your Nissan. The tire pressure monitoring system lets you know whether all four tires are at their recommended pressure or need to be filled. Thanks to the Easy-Fill Tire Alert, it’s easier than ever to fill up and maintain pressure in all four tires, thanks to external alerts on Nissan vehicles.

If your tires are low on pressure, you can easily have them refilled, but if one or more tires continuously lose pressure and you’re informed about it via the warning light, you may need to replace one or more tires. Additionally, if you notice that your tire pressure is consistently low or the vehicle pulls to one side or the other, you may need to replace your tires. We have dedicated tire service at Thomas Nissan of Joliet, making our center a great option for those in or around the region looking for quality vehicle service. We hope this helps give you an idea of what to check before you bring your vehicle in for maintenance, but if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us or bring your vehicle into our service center.