Now that winter is just a memory, millions of Canadians will take to the roads to enjoy the warmer weather. The Car Care Council reminds motorists that spring is the perfect time of year to make sure your vehicle is ready for the upcoming travel season.
Whether you’re driving across the country or driving across town, the Car Care Council recommends checking the following vehicle components before embarking on your next trip:
- Wiper blades play an extremely important role in increasing visibility. Replace every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.
- Check the tires. A simple test to check tire tread depth is to insert a penny into the tread of the tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head sticks out, your tires are starting to show signs of wear and should be replaced. Also check the tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, which could indicate the need for a wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.
- Give your car a good washing from top to bottom. Use a product specifically made for automobiles. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don’t use the same mitt for both.
- If you find minor paint damage, cover the paint chips as quickly as possible. For a quick fix until you can get some touchup supplies, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch.
- Spring is an excellent time for waxing, which not only protects the finish but also makes subsequent washing easier. Before proceeding, make sure there are no foreign particles on the paint.
Under the Hood:
- A good rule of thumb is that a change of season equals a change of oil. Changing your car’s oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first, will ensure that your car operates at peak efficiency.
- Get a tune-up if necessary. As part of the 21st Century Tune-Up on today’s modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected: battery, charging and starting, engine mechanical, powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks), fuel, ignition and emissions.
- Check all fluids. There are several fluids that require attention, including engine oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluids, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. The antifreeze/coolant should be refreshed every two years.
- Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps that appear to be in marginal condition may need to be replaced.
Under the Vehicle:
- Spring is a good time to check the entire brake system, including brake linings, rotors and drums.
- Check the shocks or struts for signs of physical damage, such as leaking, rusting, or dents. Also be aware of the warning signs that you may need them replaced: vehicle rolls or sways on turns, front end dives when braking, rear end squats when accelerating, vehicle sits lower in the front or rear, a loss of directional control during sudden stops, and the vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding and rough road.
- If you notice any fluid puddles or stains under your vehicle, it is a good idea to have it inspected. There are several fluids that can leak from the vehicle including antifreeze/coolant, battery acid, brake fluid, clear water, diesel fuel, engine oil, gasoline, gear oil, power steering fluid, shock and strut fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. To obtain a free service interval schedule, visit www.carcare.org.
A last min checkup is better than no checkup. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable & will even save u a few $$ at the gas pumps.
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Your car probably needs a wheel alignment, if:
- Your vehicle pulls to the left or right
- The steering wheel is off center
- Shows uneven tire wear
- Unusual handling or vibration
Accidents, normal wear and tear, as well as road conditions, including: potholes and curbs can take their toll on your cars steering and suspension system, and may even disrupt alignment settings. Poor wheel alignment affects your vehicle; it can create a pull on your vehicle that can be very straining during long drives, as you are constantly fighting with your vehicle to keep straight. It can cause your tires to wear out unevenly, and therefore more quickly, it affects your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and over time, poor alignment can also damage other components and affect your safety.
Wheel alignment ensures your tires are placed in the correct position —level with the ground, point straight ahead, and parallel to each other—so tires can maintain straight-line tracking.
Proper alignment will help you maximize the life of your tires, help you save on gas, minimize wear and tear of other vehicle components and make the handling of your vehicle considerably easier.
It’s important to have a trained technician perform wheel alignments periodically.
Benefits of regular wheel alignments:
- Increase fuel efficiency (save on gas).
- Less wear and tear on tires (more mileage out of your tires).
- Less wear and tear on other parts.
- Easier and safer to drive.
- More mileage out of your tires. Proper wheel alignments ensure that your tires wear out evenly, allowing them to last longer.
- Better gas mileage. When a vehicles wheels are aligned properly, it cuts down on rolling resistance, this means, that your car doesn’t have to work as hard or burn as much fuel in order to move forward.
- Easier to drive. Aligning your vehicles tires provides for an easier drive.
- Less wear and tear on other parts. In order to keep the car straight, you need to put pressure on the steering system, and when you brake you often feel the car is pulling, indicating that the brakes need to work harder on one side than the other.
Evidence shows, that regular wheel alignment is beneficial for your car. Not only does having the wheels aligned properly save you money on gas, repairs and tires, but it also gives you the peace of mind knowing you will be safe on the road.
According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of fatal accidents could be prevented by the use of this technology.
Electronic stability control (ESC), also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding).
ESC intervenes only when it detects a probable loss of steering control, i.e. when the vehicle is not going where the driver is steering. This may happen, for example, when skidding during emergency evasive swerves, under steer or over steer during poorly judged turns on slippery roads, or hydroplaning. ESC may also intervene in an unwanted way during high-performance driving, because steering input may not always be directly indicate the intended direction of travel (i.e. controlled drifting). ESC estimates the direction of the skid, and then applies the brakes to individual wheels asymmetrically, opposing the skid and bringing the vehicle back in line with the driver’s intended direction. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually. Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained. Additionally, the system may reduce engine power or operate the transmission to slow the vehicle down. ESC does not improve a vehicle’s performance; instead, it helps to minimize the loss of control.
ESC can work on any surface, from dry pavement to frozen lakes. It reacts to and corrects skidding much faster and more effectively than the typical human driver, often before the driver is even aware of any expected loss of control. In fact, this led to some concern that ESC could allow drivers to become overconfident in their vehicle’s handling and/or their own driving skills. For this reason, ESC systems typically inform the driver when they intervene, so that the driver knows that the vehicle’s handling limits have been approached. Most activate a dashboard indicator light and/or alert tone; some intentionally allow the vehicle’s corrected course to deviate very slightly from the driver-commanded direction, even if it is possible to more precisely match it.
All ESC manufacturers emphasize that the system is not a performance enhancement nor a replacement for safe driving practices, but rather a safety technology to assist the driver in recovering from dangerous situations. ESC does not increase traction, ESC works within inherent limits of the vehicle’s handling and available traction between the tyres and road. A reckless maneuver can still exceed these limits, resulting in loss of control. Drive Safe!