Helpful Hints

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.

Fuel Saving Tips:

  • Vehicle gas caps-About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
  • Under inflated tires-When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
  • Worn spark plugs-A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs typically, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug cases misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Dirty air filters-An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture—too much gas is being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 20 cents a gallon.

10 Minute Pre-Trip Check up 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 antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as we 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 or steering/suspension work. Also, look for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the weather & prepare accordingly…

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 taken.

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