Car Care Month: Maintenance is Your Friend

Most of us take our vehicles for granted. We head out the door, day after day, rushing off to work or school or the store without any room in the schedule for car trouble. Given their essential role in many lives, it’s surprising how few people make time for car maintenance. There’s really no reason not to do it, and a little effort can have a big payoff when it comes to dependability, safety, and resale value. Sponsored by a non-profit organization called the Car Care Council, April is designated as National Car Care Month because spring is a great time to examine winter’s toll on your vehicle.

Tires are one of the most important areas to address. Cold weather can cause a drop in tire inflation pressure and underinflation is extremely dangerous. It causes increased treadwear on the outside edges of the tire and excessive heat, both of which raise the risk of tire failure. You can’t tell if a tire needs air just by looking at it. If you have a newer model vehicle equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), don’t ignore the light if it comes on. If you don’t have TPMS, use a reliable gauge to test and adjust to the proper pressure. The inflation pressure stamped on the sidewall of a tire is the “maximum” pressure, not the “recommended” pressure – look in the owner’s manual or the driver’s side door jamb to find the magic number.

Besides pressure, check your tires for unusual or uneven wear. Tires that are worn down to the wear bars on the tread or more than six years old should be replaced. Insufficient tread makes the car susceptible to hydroplaning in wet weather, a hallmark of spring. Bulges or wrinkles in the tire sidewalls as well as cracks in the tread may indicate separation issues. It only takes a small puncture in the tire or a rim leak where the tire bead seals against the lip of the wheel to cause a flat tire or a blowout.

Brakes are another key vehicle component that too often get overlooked, despite being of utmost importance to basic safety. Brake shoes and pads as well as many hydraulic and mechanical components have limited service lives. If your brake pedal feels spongy or low, if the brakes pull to one side, or if there are noises when the brakes are applied, you should have them inspected. This is also a good time to check your brake fluid. If it needs more than a top off, see a mechanic before your brakes fail due to a fluid leak.

Other key tips include:

  • Test exterior and interior lights, and replace blown bulbs. Headlamps are especially important – you cannot react if you can’t see. They also make your car more visible to other drivers.
  • Replace windshield wiper blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering. Make sure you have a full washer fluid reservoir.
  • Check the car’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  • Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers.

If everyone on the road maintained their vehicles, there would be less risk of accidents. Be part of the solution by taking care of your own vehicle and hope that your example will be followed by others. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident by an unsafe motor vehicle, or if you have any questions about this topic, trust your case to the car accident attorneys at Wapner Newman. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-LAW-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form and let us help you.