Before Customs: Your Car's Check List

Valerie Tan
8 Jun 2015

Under the hood

Singaporeans are fond of revving up north for a short summer getaway during the June holidays. To avoid disappointment brought about by a car breakdown en-route, here's a checklist to go through before you embark on the journey with your family.

Below the hood:

Fluid levels

When was the last servicing you did for your 4 wheeler and how comprehensive was that? Chances are many of you drivers will have to run your precious drive through a basic fluid check prior to you road trip (especially so if you are travelling for more than 1000km).

Inspect the following fluid levels to ensure they are adequately topped up:

1. Engine oil

2. Brake fluid – Top up to the MAX marking as indicated in the brake fluid pump with a DOT4 brake fluid, unless your owner’s manual states that you have to use a specific brake fluid for your vehicle.

3. Coolant

4. Power steering fluid (for rides that does not have electric power steering)

5. Automatic transmission fluid (applicable if there is a dipstick)

6. Windscreen washer level -  Seasoned road users up the highway will know the significance of this. Travelling at higher speeds meant bugs may come crashing at the windscreen and you do need more water to clean off the nasties for a better view of the road.

If it has been some time since the above items have been replaced, it will be ideal to do a change or top up of the fluids. At the same time, examine your engine block for oil leaks. If leakages are spotted, rectify and change the parts immediately.


Is your vehicle nearing its next servicing? It might be wise to bring this date forward before your road trip for tip-top engine performance throughout the drive. Things to note include:

1. Change of Engine oil

2. Spark plugs – Are they new or due for replacement?

3. Fan belt – Cracks on the surface of the belt necessitate a change.

4. Timing belt (not applicable if your car uses a timing chain instead of a belt) – When was this last replaced?

5. Water pump -  Has this been changed prior and are there visible leaks from it?

6. Overheating – Is your car prone to overheating? Observe if the coolant level is sufficient and whether the fluid is new or needs a replacement.


This can be examined if your vehicle has the Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) dipstick. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to assess the ATF level. Do note that not all rides come with the ATF dipstick nowadays.


Most cars have maintenance-free batteries these days. But when was the last time you replaced the battery and has it been able to start well lately? How is the condition of it?

A battery test can be done at any shops specialising in car batteries to determine its performance and provides an indication if replacement is necessary. This will give you peace of mind and respite from worrying about whether your car will start when you are on the road.

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