bernstein blog

Steps to a safer car
October 01, 2014 07:12AM EST

10.1.14_BernsteinBlog-CarSafetyThere’s a whole regimen to owning a classic car, high end wax and tire shine compounds, and a lot of extra work and expense is to be expected. You don’t have to put the same kind of care into your daily driver but taking care of a few points of maintenance will keep that car on the road and safe for years.

  • Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure. The tires that came on your car were chosen at the factory for their speed rating and the weight of the vehicle. In order for them to operate correctly and keep your car in safe contact with the road, they need to be kept at or near their correct psi. Keeping the tires at the correct pressure will not only make them hold the road better, it will also make them last longer and provide optimal gas mileage.
  • Maintain the car’s lights. Obviously, you want to keep both headlights working so you can drive safely at night, but you also want to make sure they’re both aimed correctly to illuminate the road ahead. Make sure that the turn signals and brake lights are in good working order as well so that other drivers on the road know what you’re planning to do in traffic. As a side note, a broken lens or dark bulb will draw the attention of the police; this is an easy ticket to avoid.
  • Be aware of the condition of your brakes. A squealing or squeaking sound is a sure sign that your brake pads are starting to wear thin. A vibration or pulsation on braking is a sign that your brake rotors are starting to warp. A mushy brake pedal can be a sign that the brake fluid is starting to take on water. All of the advantages of antilock brakes, traction control and all-wheel drive are diminished if the brakes are not in good working order.
  • Listen to your car. A rattling sound when driving over bumps in the road can be a sign of the car’s suspension or steering components aging. A moaning that occurs on turning can be a wheel bearing starting to go. A hard knocking sound from any of the four corners of the car can be a sign that the car’s shocks and struts are starting to wear out. Pay attention to the sound your car makes and be ready to get the car examined as those sounds get louder.

A good way to keep ahead of your car’s needs is to refer to its normal service table. Auto manufacturers have created lists of inspections to be performed and parts to be replaced at defined mileage intervals. While they can predict that brakes need service after 40,000 miles or spark plugs need to be changed at 70,000 miles, it isn’t just wear or miles that can compromise a vehicle’s parts, time is a factor too. The small rubber and polyurethane parts in the engine and suspension will degrade and eventually fail due to the passage of time.

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