Quarterly Vehicle Safety Checklist – 4 Keys

Most American residents experience some kind of change in seasons each year…even in California and Florida.  Seasons can be a helpful cue for reminding drivers to run through a quick safety checklist…to help avoid accidents and unnecessarily large future repair bills.  Use the old James Taylor song to help remind yourself (it works!…Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) that using this handy checklist can make you and your vehicle better, safer “friends”.  Car care tips can be tedious and boring, but this four point list will help keep your vehicle looking and running in tip-top shape.

  • Wiper Blades – Inspect & Replace them regularly.  Everything can wear out and break.  Wiper blade rubber usually becomes dry and brittle during the Summer…especially if they’ve already been through only one rainy season.  You can’t keep your eyes on the road of you can’t see through your windwhield.
  • Tires – Pressure & Tread Depth – Tires can easily lose one (1) pound of air pressure each month…even if your car just sits in the driveway.  Under-inflated tires translates into lower gas mileage and poor handling, and can suffer unnoticeable damage that compromises car performance and safety.  A monthly check on tires is highly warranted.  Don’t just check it randomly or yearly…it’s important to do it monthly.   A tread depth check is easily done by looking inside the grooves on the tire.  At every six to 10 inches, a raised wear bar will appear, and if the tread is worn to the same height as the bar, it’s time to replace the tire.  It’s important to several spots on each tire…because wear is often even.  Time for new tires?  RTFM (read the friendly [owner’s] manual)  to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation for size and type of tires.
  • Brakes –  Nothing is more critical to vehicle safety than properly functioning brakes.  Disc brakes on newer vehicles are constantly assaulted by dirt, moisture and road salt.  Pay attention to how your brakes respond. Does your vehicle stop evenly …or kind of pull to one side?  Any noises?  Some noises can be harmless and not uncommon.  But loud or constant noises when you apply the brakes should be checked out professionally.
  • Battery – Verify its Strength…don’t assume all is well with the car battery just because your vehicle starts.  That next turn of the key may be your unexpected tipping point.  If you’re comfortable checking your own battery…great!  Usually it’s best have an auto care & repair professional do it for you.

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Your Tire IQ? National Tire Safety Week

Are you an “above average driver”?  Most people say YES!  How about your proficiency with a simple car maintenance task like checking your tire pressure?  It should be a quick, simple procedure for optimizing your vehicle’s overall safety…increasing fuel economy and helping your tires last longer.  This recent national survey discovered that only about 17 percent of U.S. drivers have the “tire smarts” for checking tire pressure effectively.

The reality is…there are some very real differences between men & women… as well as between younger vs. older drivers.  Men are more likely to have a higher “tire IQ,” according to the survey.  20 percent of men vs 14 percent of women are considered  to be adequately proficient at checking tire pressure monthly and checking tires when they are cold (before driving).  But kinda like stopping to ask for directions…women are better than men at knowing where to find the correct tire pressure for their vehicle.  No, not the local service station attendant…but right on the driver side doorjamb or door…and in the owner’s manual.
But the generation gap is even greater than the gender gap.  Twenty-seven percent of drivers aged 60 and over are proficient at “properly checking tire pressure”…while only 8 percent of drivers 18 to 39 know the basic skill .


Here are 5 handy tips for jacking up your tire IQ:

  • Safety Risk – Under-inflated tires pose a safety risk, waste fuel and cause premature tire wear.   11 cents a gallon…at today’s gas prices is what the U.S. Department of Energy states that properly inflated tires can save consumers.
  • Pressure – Regular monthly tire pressure checks is key.  Just use your own tire gauge…then inflate to your vehicle’s manufacturer recommended pressure.
  • Alignment – Misalignment of wheels can cause uneven and rapid tread wear.
  • Rotation – Rotate tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles to help you achieve more uniform wear.
  • Tread – Advanced & unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions.

National Tire Safety Week (June 1-7 for 2014) and the tire industry’s “Be Tire Smart – Play Your Part” program is a Rubber Manufacturers Association and tire manufacturer members consumer education effort…aimed at helping drivers understand the simple steps they can take to ensure that their tires are in good working condition.  Download their free handy brochure for more safety tips.


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