No matter how well you drive, you are not safe unless your vehicle is in good condition.
You keep your vehicle in good condition by having the vehicle properly maintained. If it is not, your car could fail you at a critical moment, and you could be in a serious crash.
What vehicle maintenance is safety related?
Virtually all of your vehicle’s mechanical systems can affect fuel efficiency if not properly maintained.
Lights – Make sure that all of your lights work and that your light lenses are clean. Check headlights, taillights, directional signals, and interior lights.
Wheels Tires – Tires are designed to grip the road and give the driver directional control. Bald, excessively worn, or improperly inflated tires decrease the ability of the driver to control the vehicle. Rotating your tires helps prolong their life and improve fuel economy. Wheel alignment and balance should be checked once a year. If they are out of balance, the driver will feel a pounding or shaking through the steering wheel.
Oil – Car engines run particularly well when they are regularly lubricated. Oil lubricates the moving parts of the engine, minimizing metal-to-metal contact, thereby reducing friction and carrying away excess heat. Oil also captures dirt, metal shavings and other impurities from the engine enabling the transfer of these injurious substances into the vehicle’s oil filter.
Belts, hoses, regular tune-ups – Have your belts and hoses checked at the regularly scheduled time periods mentioned in your owner’s manual. Also, get a tune-up at the scheduled maintenance time. Check under the hood for cracked or split spark plug wires, cracked radiator hoses or loose clamps and corrosion around the battery terminals.
Emission-control systems – Modern vehicles are equipped to treat exhaust emissions before they are released into the atmosphere. The emission-control system must be inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you experience problems such as stalling or poor acceleration, or if your exhaust produces black or blue smoke, your vehicle is probably polluting the air and needs servicing.
Ignition systems – Proper maintenance of your vehicle’s ignition system is critical. Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture. If one or more of the plugs is worn or malfunctioning, the engine will misfire, and some fuel will remain unburned. Worn or damaged spark plug wires can also cause misfiring. A misfiring engine wastes fuel, produces higher levels of emissions and generally performs poorly.
Brakes – The foot brake must be capable of stopping the vehicle within a distance of 25 feet at a speed of 20 miles per hour. On a straight, flat and traffic-free stretch of road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and apply the brakes gradually. It is important to pay attention to any strange sounds you may hear when you apply your brakes, such as grinding or squeaking sounds.
Why should I bother to do vehicle maintenance?
Maintenance requirements vary widely from one vehicle to another. Failing to follow your particular vehicle owner’s manual’s maintenance regime could void your vehicle’s warranty, but worse yet could endanger you and your family.
If you think that your vehicle is due for service, schedule an appointment at Escondido Auto Tech at (760) 745-4454 or online at eatauto.com.