If you have never tried
to pry the spare tire from a trunk filled with
luggage and *stuff*, or stood in the rain
waiting for a tow-truck, or shivered in fear by
the side of the road as other cars raced by
ever so close: then you know how much trouble
car trouble can be.
The folks at the
Car Care Council
want you to check out your
car before you get on the road. Here are
A special warning note of my own: On a
dark and rainy night along the Interstate, my
husband and I discovered that in some newer
cars, a battery interruption may take
ALL your electrical
systems in a second - including your emergency
You Ready For The Road?
Most mechanical failures can be traced to
neglected maintenance. For example, the U. S.
Department of Transportation reports the
leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our
nation's highways is overheating, a condition
that is easily avoidable. Other deficiencies
that are simple to detect include low
antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts
and defective cooling system hoses.
Checking tire pressure and inflating a tire
costs nothing, yet an average of 21 percent of
cars inspected in check lanes during National
Car Care Month have under inflated tires. This
can lead to a blowout and a serious accident.
WIPERS - In
the 2001National Car Care Month vehicle check
lanes, 21percent of participants had wipers
that smeared, streaked or chattered across
their windshields. Although climates vary,
wipers generally need replacing every six
An easy reminder is to
change wiper blades in the spring and fall when
you change your clock. Be sure the windshield
washers are working properly, too, and keep the
reservoir filled with solvent.
Another important pre-trip check should be
exterior and interior lighting. Vehicle check
lanes revealed an overall failure rate of over
25 percent in the lighting category.
The Car Care Council
reminds motorists to check their lights
monthly. Other suggestions from the Council
include turning on headlights both day and
night. This helps define your car's position on
the road, and its distance from other drivers.
When your vehicle's lighting is defective,
other motorists may not get the message that
you intend to stop or turn. The end result
could be disastrous.
10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off
Car Care Council offers three suggestions
for a traveler's 10-minute pre-trip checklist:
Check all fluids. There are several
fluids, in addition to antifreeze, that
require attention, including engine oil,
power steering, brake and transmission
fluids and windshield washer solvent and
Check hoses and belts. A belt that
fails can affect the electrical system,
air conditioning and power steering, as
well as the cooling system. Cooling system
hoses may be deteriorating from within, so
old hoses and clamps in marginal condition
might need to be replaced.
Check the tires. Check tire inflation
and inspect the tread for uneven wear,
indicating the need for wheel alignment.
Also look for bulges and bald spots.
"While a last minute checkup is better than
no checkup, motorists should plan ahead to
allow time to perform necessary maintenance
themselves or at the local service facility. A
properly maintained vehicle is safer and more
dependable and will even save a few dollars at
the gas pumps," said the Car Care Council's
Executive Director, Rich White.
Not only can a pre-trip inspection help
reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous
road trouble, it also provides an opportunity
to have repairs made at home, with one's own
technician who knows the vehicle. Especially
important, it provides peace of mind. While no
inspection can guarantee a car's performance,
it's comforting to know proper precautions were