April 29, 2022 by Rick Griffith
As April closes out, there are many reasons to consider vehicle safety and maintenance. For one, April is National Car Care month, established by the Car Care Council. What that means is just because winter weather driving is over, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prep our vehicles for spring and summer driving.
Generally, in April, road conditions become drastically erratic with periods of snow and rain, depending upon where you live in the four-state region. But now is an excellent time to begin thinking about preparing your car for safe travel before embarking on your spring and summer road trips.
As drivers, we should all “Be Car Care Aware.” That knowledge comes from a two-part process: how you drive and manage your vehicle maintenance.
Now that may sound like common sense, but in reality, sometimes we all need a little reminder. Vehicle maintenance is a big part of fuel efficiency, cooling systems, electrical, steering and handling, locking mechanisms, brakes, visibility, and lighting.
Delays in maintaining any one of these standard maintenance regimes and you could wind up spending thousands of dollars in repairs, or worse, become a traffic statistic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), poor tire maintenance accounted for “over 600 tire-related fatalities in 2019.”
Proper care for your tires means ensuring the tire pressure is sufficiently inflated. An improperly inflated tire can lead to blowouts, increased tread-wear, and uneven wear, whether over or underfilled.
If you don’t properly monitor and check the wear on your tires, it could cause other costly problems. Other essential maintenance checkpoints include having your tires aligned, mounted, and balanced. If unchecked, your car can veer left or right and leave you struggling to steer your vehicle.
Tire rotation can help extend the life of your tire, improve fuel economy, and reduce any irregularities in tire wear. Tire pressure can also play into fuel efficiency. Of course, you also want to make sure all the tires on the vehicle are the same. You can always check with a local tire dealer, like a Goodyear or Discount Tire, on the tire specifications for your car.
Another hefty fine can come from the infamous padiddle, an American pastime of counting cars with one headlight out. Unfortunately, for the driver of the padiddle car, it fails to illuminate the road ahead of them.
Some drivers are all too aware that if they turn the high beams on, they can appear to have two functioning headlights. The problem there is blinding oncoming drivers with high-beam lights on could cause some vehicle involved accident.
Another common vehicle violation is operating a vehicle with a cracked windshield. Windshields are not safety glass. If you drive a car in Missouri with a windshield crack that obstructs your vision as a driver and is longer than three inches, you might not pass your vehicle inspection to obtain proper vehicle registration.
Other states also have similar laws, and it’s essential to make sure you get those windshield chips fixed before they crack. Most insurance companies offer coverage to repair a chip before a crack forms. However, you may have to pay the insurance deductible to have the windshield replaced if you don’t.
Make sure to have your brakes checked regularly too. Brake failure while driving can be frightening at the cost of your own life or someone else. Your mechanic can visually inspect brake pads during a regular oil or tire rotation. They will also check your brake fluid at that time.
Your mechanic will check all the fluids in your car if you ask. If they find something is low, they can check for leaks and top those fluids off to ensure they continue to function correctly.
Steering fluid, in particular, is one fluid you don’t want to see run out on the open road. If you lose power steering while driving your car, it will not respond smoothly or quickly to steering. A loss of steering can catch a driver off unexpectedly and create a panic situation.
If you are looking to buy a used car, Rick Griffith, the owner of Car Credit, says to make sure the vehicle is safe to drive, whether you’re buying it from a dealer or an individual. Rick and his team commit to “extensive reconditioning on every used car they sell to meet all safety requirements.” It is central to their business focus to ensure each vehicle on their “lot drives off safe and reliable, regardless of the price on our vehicles,” says Griffith.
So, don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic to check a used car out before buying. It could be the difference between safety and reliability. You can also call the folks at Car Credit Joplin to talk about their safety guidelines and current inventory today. They are always happy to answer all your questions.