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I was given a summary of my 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe after a 27 point check:

Wheels must be retorqued within 50km
Tire pressure set at 35
Front tires LF10 RF10
Rare tires LR10 RR10
Tire size 225/70R16
Tire brand motomaster total terrain
Brake fluid condition 60%
Front brakes 10MM
Rear brakes 3MM
Antifreeze low
Battery 458CCA
*No oil reading on entry
Engine oil leak, valve cover gskt leak
Engine and cabin filters dirty
Noisy drive belts
P.Steering pump leaks
Rear brakes due soon
Rear wiper blade worn

I don't know much about cars except being able to change the engine oil and summer/winter tires, etc. How can I figure out what exactly these mean and what are the most important things I need a car mechanic to take care of, and which are the items I should able to do myself?


Updates

Thanks everyone who is so generous to share their advice and knowledge. The engine oil was changed by the first inspector/mechanics. With this report, I went to another mechanic to change the rear brake pads, it turned out the second one (more reliable to me) said there was nothing wrong with the brakes, the front brakes are almost new and rear brakes have 50% lifespan. But they said my car's alignment has issue (which I kind of feel and the driving wheel is slightly misaligned as well), and the tires threads are almost gone, so I led them replacing the tires and fixing the alignment. They also said there is no issue with P. steering. Odd how the first mechanic is seeing and missing some important things.

  • Did they rotate your tires for you? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 7 '17 at 19:38
  • No this is just an inspection. I need to decide what tasks to give them. Do think I need them to rotate the tires (I changed the summer and winter tires myself)? – KubiK888 May 8 '17 at 4:57
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In terms of priority:

1) top up engine oil

2) set tyre pressures & retorque wheels

3) change rear brakes

4) (linked to 3) replace brake fluid

5) belts, leaks, wipers & the rest Antifreeze before Autumn.

What you can do and what you need to get a mechanic to do is your choice. If you have been changing the oil, then why is it so low? Is the engine oil leak really bad?

  • The leak is slow. I did change the oil and top up afterward. I didn't realize the engine oil level should remain a certain level, I thought it needs to change after it is below the L mark, so I waited. Is re-torquing fairly easy to do by myself with the right tool? – KubiK888 May 7 '17 at 15:26
  • Also, while it says change rear brakes soon, should I also let the mechanic to change the front brakes? Is 10MM plenty or not? – KubiK888 May 7 '17 at 16:07
  • Re-torquing - yes, undo then re-do to right torque then check again. 10mm maybe - depends on the original thickness. – Solar Mike May 7 '17 at 16:55
  • Is there a good reason to loosen them when retorqueing, assuming they were properly torqued in the first place? I assume the reason to retorque is in case the lug nuts loosen up -- not in case they magically get tighter. – Ives May 8 '17 at 17:19
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I'm going to give you a complete breakdown of each of the tasks, yet break them down into three separate categories:

Must Do Now (Safety)

  • Tire pressure set at 35 (If the "RF10" needs to be 35, these are really low)
  • Rear brakes 3MM (Replace at a minimum brake pads)
  • Antifreeze low (Fill to level, check again every day for a week)
  • *No oil reading on entry (Fill to full line, check everyday until gasket fixed)
  • P. Steering pump leaks (Probably need mechanic to perform)

Should Do Soon (Maintenance)

  • Engine oil leak, valve cover gskt leak (Should be able to do yourself with minimal hand tools; ask a question on the site if you want specifics)
  • Wheels must be retorqued within 50km (You need a torque wrench to do this properly)
  • Engine and cabin filters dirty (Treat your engine and yourself to some clean air)
  • Rear wiper blade worn (Replacements are cheap and easy)

Do When Appropriate (Can be done in the future as needed, definitely not an emergency)

  • Front brakes 10MM (still have some meat left on them)
  • Brake fluid condition 60% (plenty of life, but consider changing)
  • Battery 458CCA (No clue what your battery should be, but the battery should last for up to 5 years)
  • Noisy drive belts (consider changing the belts)

Within each of the categories I've not segregated them into which ones to do first for each. In the Must Do Now section, all of these really need to be done before considering even driving the vehicle again for any distance. The brakes have enough meat to get you to a repair shop or parts store (if doing yourself), but I wouldn't do much more driving than that before they're changed.

The "Should Do Soon" section is stuff which isn't going to kill you or your vehicle, yet really needs to get done very soon. The reason why I asked if they rotated your tires is if they did, they would have torqued the wheels when they put them back on. If so, you don't want to break the lugs free when re-torquing. The reason for this is you pretty much kill the reason for the retorque in the first place by breaking them free. You should just torque to spec (spec depends on the type of wheels you're using). If you loosen the lugs before the retorque, you are basically starting over and would need to retorque again in 50km, defeating the purpose. Since they didn't do anything with a rotation, you should consider having them do this for you. It's a good idea to rotate your tires every 5-6k miles (8-10k km). This helps the tires wear evenly.

The stuff in the "Do When Appropriate" section are things which should be done as they become an issue. Right now, they aren't in bad shape and the maintenance can wait a while longer. Consider doing these when time and pocketbook allow, but the time to do them is soon approaching.

Mind you, what I've typed out here is partially opinion and partially just good practice. I hope it helps.

2

Here's my reading of the report; if you need the absolute truth, though, you'd need to talk to the people who inspected the car.

Tires

Wheels must be retorqued within 50km

Tire pressure set at 35

Front tires LF10 RF10

Rare tires LR10 RR10

Tire size 225/70R16

Tire brand motomaster total terrain

For me, this sounds like information rather than a warning.

They'd have to take the wheels off to get the measurements on the brake pads, so they'll torque them up when replacing, but it's a standard warning to check the torque after a few days. They're telling you that the tire pressure is NOW 35psi (a pretty standard setting for most passenger cars being serviced at quickfit places). The LF10/RF10/LR10/RR10 is telling you the tread depth of each tire, in mm - and they all look good. The next two lines inform you of the tire make and size.

In this first section, there's nothing for you to do. Most garages will retorque the wheels for you in about 2 minutes for free if you had the inspection done there originally.

Brakes

Brake fluid condition 60%

Front brakes 10MM

Rear brakes 3MM

Brake fluid deterioriates over time, because it absorbs water. Having water in the brake fluid affects braking, so sometime this summer I'd get the brake fluid changed. It's not hard to do yourself, but if you don't work on cars much, you'll probably have better peace of mind by letting a mechanic do it. He can also change the rear brakes for you. I don't know the thickness of the front brakes, but you may want to do those at the same time. Rear brakes wear out much slower than the fronts, so I'd guess that the rears have not been replaced for a few long time. Have this work done this summer (sooner rather than later, just based on the thickness of the rear brakes)

Others

Antifreeze low

Stick some in. Your car manual will tell you how much, and where to put it. I'm surprised that the garage didn't top it off for you. Cost is less than $5 for coolant, and about 5 minutes of your time. Simple job.

Battery 458CCA

Informational only. If you live in a cold climate, the CCA of the battery is very important - but not so much in temperate areas. 458CCA is OK - nothing to worry about.

*No oil reading on entry

Put some oil in, ASAP. This is very important.

Engine oil leak, valve cover gskt leak

Depends how bad the oil leak is - if it just makes things messy, you can ignore it - get a mechanic to give you an honest opinion.

Engine and cabin filters dirty

Replace them. Pretty cheap, and helps the engine (and driver) breathe better.

Noisy drive belts

Again, ask a mechanic. It depends on where the noise comes from (belt? Pulley bearing?), and the condition of the belt. Not a big job.

P.Steering pump leaks

Drop some Lucas Stop Leak into it, and check in a few days. It may heal itself. Otherwise you need a replacement - doable at home for a beginner, but quite a messy job.

Rear brakes due soon

Yep, 3mm. Get 'em done.

Rear wiper blade worn

Simple job. Buy blade at a car spare store, and ask them to throw it on for you (they often do, for free)

2

I'd change the headcover gasket asap, if that's definitely the cause of a significant loss of oil. At higher rpm you can lose oil very fast through the top cover, and that could be the main source of your oil leak because it makes it hard to spot lower leaks when the block is covered in oil from above. If you have the 4cyl 2.4 it's pretty simple to replace the gasket. Just pull the coils held by a few small 10mm bolts off the spark plugs, then remove the 10mm bolts all around the edges of the cover(only a couple are different lengths. remember where they go.), then pull the old gasket off including the small circle pieces around the spark plug wells, and replace with a new one. You can wipe down the gasket's groove in the head cover and with rubber gloves you can smear a very small amount of "liquid gasket" rtv silicon stuff on the new gasket so it is sticky and stays in place easily while you position the cover back on. A torque wrench is best but they're small bolts in aluminum requiring something like 11ft/lbs, (probably finger tight and two more turns) way less effort than you would use just driving a screw into wood. Just get a 30$ junk torque wrench to be confident. Careful not to mess with seals around the cam shafts or related sensors. Look at your new gasket first to become familiar with what your supposed to be removing.

0

Not sure if this qualifies as an answer as it's more of a helpful hint, but if you do have the 2.4 motor it's a model associated with the "world engine project" and developed with Mitsubishi, Chrysler, and maybe BMW or Mercedes I can't recall. What this means for you is that cars like the lancer evolution, eclipse, neon, Plymouth laser, Mitsubishi starion, and numerous other kias, and hyundais share a lot of similarities in at least their disassembly procedures, parts locations and basic troubleshooting. This will make it extremely easy to find detailed walk throughs online intended for popular performance models, or cult classics that will still provide you with insights into your vehicle that's related through its core components.

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