How To Check Your Vehicle’s Oil Level the Right Way

My heart sinks anytime I check the oil in a client vehicle and the engine oil dipstick is bone dry. Checking your oil is easy to do and it can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. Here’s how I do it.


Rob Music showing off his oil checking abilities

Summer Vehicle Maintenance Tips

Summer Car Maintenance Recommended for Edmonton

Now that COVID restrictions are being removed, lots of people are looking to hit the road again. Want to make your summer driving experience hassle free? Here are some suggestions:

Get a vehicle inspection done. 

There isn’t one part of the vehicle that is not equally important for summer time as in other seasons. Brakes, battery, engine, cooling system, all ride control components etc. need to be operating as designed.

The best way to maximize your chances of your vehicle making your summer trips hassle free is to do a vehicle inspection ahead of time. We recommend at least two weeks in advance of your trip in case you find some unexpected repairs that need to be performed.

Pay attention to your vehicle’s Air Conditioning

Beat the heat by ensuring your vehicle’s Air Conditioning (A/C) system is working at peak efficiency, especially if you have black leather seats! While A/C systems are built to not leak, they aren’t leak-proof. Here are some of the warning signs of trouble:

  1. The system isn’t cooling to the desired temperatures
  2. The system makes loud or unusual noises when turned on
  3. There are unusual odours coming from the vents
  4. Water appears on the floor mats
  5. The vehicle overheats, stalls or idles roughly when the system is turned on
  6. The blower doesn’t work when the a/c is turned on
  7. The defroster doesn’t work.

If you encounter any of these symptoms bring your vehicle in for an a/c system inspection and analysis.

Complete deferred maintenance items

Be sure to take care of general maintenance items for carefree summer motoring. An example would be the Cabin Filter. Do you really want to have smelly or no air coming from your vents on a long road trip? Just change it before it causes more potential problems. If your oil is due for a change, then getting it done before hitting the road is also highly recommended.

Check on the items you have in your car for convenience, safety and emergencies in the summer

Summer means time to make some changes. Bust out the t-shirts and shorts and enjoy the sun. You should also do a check of what you bring along with you in the car – no need for that snowbrush! Here are the essentials you should keep inside your car during the hot summer months.

  1. Water
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Phone Charger
  4. First Aid Kit
  5. Jumper Cables
  6. Snacks
  7. Flashlight
  8. Emergency Money
  9. Multi-tool Device / Swiss Army Knife
  10. Tow Rope

You may never have an emergency, but in the event that something happens, you will be prepared.

Load up safely for your next road trip

Edmonton road trip packing and preparation tips

Pack your car with safety and convenience

Anyone who has ever packed a car for a road trip knows that loading properly lies somewhere between science and art. As the last item is loaded, you can judge your packing success by how accessible items are as the kids ask them

Loading your car safely doesn’t mean stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into the trunk and hoping for the best. Proper loading requires careful planning and a lot of common sense.

Consider the following:

Can your vehicle handle the load

This is very important to consider, especially when pulling a trailer. If you’re not sure how much your vehicle can handle, ask your automotive technician for advice. Overloading can affect your car’s handling, stability and could damage your suspension.

Preparing your vehicle for the road ahead

  1. A tune-up is in order, especially for long excursions. The last thing you want on vacation is a breakdown that could have been prevented by simple maintenance
  2. Make sure your brakes are in good working order. Having that extra load in your trunk or with a trailer, will demand more from your brake system
  3. Make sure your headlights are property adjusted. Loading your trunk can cause the front end of your vehicle to raise slightly. You don’t want to blind oncoming drivers.

Loading up

  1. First and foremost, plan your packing! You don’t want the kids’ toys and travel games underneath the luggage. Ensure that items you will need along the way are easily accessible (this includes the spare tire, jack and first aid kit)!
  2. If you own a vehicle like a station wagon or mini-van, with an open cargo area, make sure none of the items packed could become dangerous projectiles in the event of an abrupt stop.
  3. Visibility is essential – don’t overfill and limit the driver’s ability to see out of the windows.


A checklist is extremely valuable before you hit the road. Here are a few items you may want to add to your own personal list

  1. Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated
    1. Extra litre of oil
    2. Spare anti-freeze mixture
    3. First-aid kit
    4. Emergency road kit
    5. Maps and AMA Triptiks
    6. Your AMA membership card


If you have a lot of stuff to pack, a small travel trailer might be a good idea

  1. Consider using a car-top carrier. But remember that loading up top will alter your vehicle’s handling. Be careful around bends in the road and when taking sharper turns. Make sure that you follow the manufacturers instructions. Securely fasten all latches and knobs when transporting. Pack roof top boxes with the concentration of the weight in the middle. Periodically remove the carrier for cleaning, lubrication and inspection.
  2. When transporting anything on top of your vehicle, always be aware of overhead clearance. Make sure all mounting points are securely fastened.
  3. If the 2-door hatchback you own just isn’t going to handle the family, the dog and all the luggage, consider renting a larger vehicle for your trip. It could take a great deal of unnecessary frustration out of your vacation. Contact your local AMA club for great car rental rates.

Don’t Make Compost on Your Vehicle

unsplash-logoMihai Surdu

Leaves, twigs and other organic matter can cause havoc with gutters on your house—and the same on your vehicle. Quite often when we open and hoods on vehicles, we see the air plenum (or called air cowl) below your windshield built up with this debris. This can cause all sorts of concerns. First, this will eventually plug your Heating / Air Conditioning drain tube. The drain tube vents all the moisture and condensation in the HVAC system. Also, you will receive less air movement from your air vents because of the clogged air plenum. So, open your hood and check the vents under the windshield. It only takes a few minutes to clean.

5 Tips for Car Spring Maintenance

Edmonton Car Maintenance Spring Tips

Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Here are a few things that we like to do to make sure your vehicle is in the best shape possible.

1. Find out if you need an oil change and check your fluids

Your engine in your vehicle does the same job as the muscles in your body. You wouldn’t think to starve your muscles. How would you get anywhere? Well, that goes the same for the engine in your vehicle – and the rest of the systems that need fluids!  Don’t starve it of clean oil! If you don’t know how to check the fluids, we’ll show you!

2. Change or rotate your tires

Your front tires do all the steering and cornering. This adds tremendous wear to the edges of the tires. You could have plenty of tread in the middle and nothing on the edges. If you don’t want to buy 2 tires every 2 years, you should be rotating them front to back every 10,000 to 12,000 km.

3. Clean Your Car Interior

Okay, winter is now over and you haven’t cleaned the interior. Trust me, I know it’s harder to clean it when it’s -20c. I now will provide you with three reasons to get it done pronto.

  1. Prevent Excess Wear and Tear. When you neglect to clean the inside of your car, your vehicle’s interior surfaces could start to develop excess wear and tear.
  2. Avoid Health Issues. Whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, you will enter a closed environment. If your vehicle is filled with dust and dirt, these particles could create poor air quality in the interior of your vehicle. Keeping the interior of your car clean will help you avoid allergies and other problems that can be associated with poor indoor air quality. By reducing stress, a clean car interior can also promote your mental health, as well.
  3. Increase Driving Safety. If your car’s windshield, windows, and side mirrors are covered in grime or debris, they will affect your ability to see your surroundings as you drive.       

4. Inspect Your Wiper Blades

There is nothing more dangerous than trying to drive a vehicle in the rain, and the wiper blades are smearing, streaking or chattering. In this country, they don’t last long. Get your visibility back to 100%.

5. Inspect Your Brakes

You really don’t want to find out that your vehicles’ brake system isn’t working 100% on your first road trip or vacation. The hot weather could cause a new set of problems than winter. I recommend you enjoy the open road and hot weather stress-free. The cost of missing a vacation or trip could be huge!

At Access Automotive we do a 50-point spring inspection along with your oil change to keep your car from developing any unexpected concerns, keeping your long-term repair bills lower and helping to prevent the inconvenience of a break-down on your summer road trip.

Take Our Quiz And Enter To Win A Gift Certificate