The weather is getting warmer; what better time then now to cruise around in the car? But, before the fun begins, is the vehicle ready to hit the road? April is National Car Care Month, and motorists around the country are being reminded to ensure proper car maintenance. National Car Care Month has been observed nationally since 1981. Businesses, mechanics, the government and non-profit organizations are all involved in the efforts to promote awareness about caring for cars.
Motorists do not have to do much to prevent damage to their vehicles. Taking simple measures such as routine inspections can take years off the car. The goal of National Car Care month is to not only inform motorists, but to also conserve energy, prevent pollution and save money for consumers.
Safety is also a big issue when it comes to dealing with cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that vehicle maintenance negligence results in 100,000 injuries every year. In addition, motorists lose about $2 billion in medical expenses and other collision-related repercussions all because of mechanical malfunctions or old equipment.
Every year, participating businesses provide events and services in this public awareness campaign. Free inspections are often given in order to prevent motorists from harming their cars or driving with problems. During the 2007 car care inspection campaign, 631 cars were surveyed within seven states. The failure rate was 80 percent for one or more parts of the vehicles. The areas examined during the inspection were lubricants and fluids, windshield wipers, parts, batteries, tires and lights. Overall, the largest problems were wipers, air filters, cables, tire depth, license plate lights and engine oil.
It is always important to be aware of warning signs of a vehicle needing repairs. As soon as a light comes on, such as check engine, take it to get looked at by a professional. The longer a vehicle goes without repairs, the worse the damage may be.
Some tips for taking care of a car while helping the environment include: Keeping tires properly inflated as this will increase gas mileage and lengthen tire life; and checking tire pressure about every two weeks. Look at the label on the tire for the recommended pressure. Avoid leaving the car running when not in it; this wastes gas. Do not rev the engine; this also wastes gas and wears down the engine.
Drive smoothly; cruise control is recommended, along with a slow acceleration. Avoid potholes and rough roads, which can damage tires. Make fewer trips. Learn to consolidate errands because the most emissions are released during the first few minutes on the road. Avoid speeding as driving over 55 mph reduces fuel efficiency.
A simple inspection does not take much time or money, but is very important. Technicians look at several core parts of a vehicle.
Batteries are tested to make sure the vehicle will start many times. Tires are checked for the correct air pressure and tread. Brakes are checked to see if there is any movement or squealing. Oil is often checked and changed to prevent engine damage. If a car goes without oil, the engine suffers. Transmission and brake fluid are checked as well to maintain proper levels. Belts and headlights are also inspected to make sure the vehicle can run and operate to its full potential.
If a person would like to get his or her car inspected, John L. Smith Inc. in West Chester is running free inspections with coupon for the month of April. The establishment is located at 550 Hannum Ave. West Chester, Pa 19380.
As the spring season starts, keep National Car Care month in mind because it is important to not only think about the nice weather, but also the health of your car.
Stephanie Barrett is a fourth year student minoring in journalism. She can be reached at SB592837@wcupa.edu.