Do you have your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000 miles? Do you regularly check the air pressure in your tires or have them rotated on a set maintenance schedule? Are your vehicle’s fluids checked regularly?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you’re not alone.
According to the Car Care Council, 87 percent of vehicles inspected during National Car Care Month earlier this year failed one or more aspects of the annual inspection.
“Compared to the 90 percent failure rate last year, the 2004 inspection results indicate that the motoring public is beginning to understand the importance of maintaining their vehicles and is starting to take action to reduce vehicle neglect,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “While we are thrilled to see the numbers decrease, an 87 percent failure rate is too high.”
Even if you aren’t mechanically savvy, there are things you can do to keep your car in safe and working order.
Checking your car’s fluids is the first step in keeping it running smoothly. Low fluid levels can affect the safe driving performance of the vehicle and damage internal parts if not properly maintained. Twenty-three percent of cars inspected had low or dirty power steering fluid while 26 percent of vehicles had low brake fluid.
Checking tire pressure and tread depth is equally important. During the Car Care Council’s inspection, 25 percent of the vehicles were found to have improperly inflated tires and 10 percent of the tires had worn tread and were in need of replacement.
Low tire pressure decreases gas mileage and tire life, and tires with worn tread are at greater risk of losing traction on wet roads. Check tire pressure every time you fill up the gas tank.
Many roadside breakdowns can be avoided by motorists periodically checking their cars belts and hoses and replacing them when worn. At least one belt was reported as unsatisfactory in 25 percent of the vehicles inspected, and 12 percent of the vehicles required at least one new hose.
Drivers also should pay attention to the condition of their car’s battery, air filter and vehicle lighting (such as brake lights, tail lights, headlights and turn signals).