The Importance of Routine Vehicle Maintenance
Vehicle manufacturers often recommend that owners have their car serviced every six months to ensure that it is in proper working order. Although its importance is often stressed for increasing the longevity of a vehicle, routine maintenance can also greatly reduce a driver's risk of being involved in certain kinds of car accidents.
According to a 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, 44,000 car accidents resulted from "vehicle-related critical reasons." These reasons varied from tire issues to brake malfunctions; regardless, it highlighted why routine maintenance is an essential component of reducing preventable crashes.
Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
The spring and fall seasons are ideal for performing routine maintenance since these are typically when the weather is mostly mild. While there are several checks you can do on your own at home, others may require a more in-depth inspection from a mechanic or other professional. When performing your own maintenance, consider going over the following checklist.
According to the NHTSA's report, about 34% of vehicle-related issues in car crashes have to do with tires. Blowouts, tread separation, underfilled tires, and more can lead to potentially fatal consequences if left ignored or overlooked. When examining your tires, consider whether:
- The tread is too low (they should be replaced if lower than 6/32 inch).
- The treads are uneven across the tire.
- There are cracks or tears in the sidewall.
- The tire is bulging at certain spots.
- The tire is constantly needing to be refilled.
It's also important to remember that most tires should be replaced within six years of use or up to 50,000 miles (for most vehicles).
Brake issues account for about 22% of vehicle-related crashes, and these can be some of the most frequent components that may be overlooked. Often this is due to changes in air pressure causing squeaks or squeals that most drivers ignore until the weather heats up. However, strange noises are likely an early indicator of mechanical issues present.
Other signs of brake issues that should be taken into account include:
- Feeling or hearing a grinding noise.
- Feeling like your vehicle is vibrating or shaking when braking.
- Fluid leaks.
- Changes in brake pedal resistance.
- A burning smell after braking (this may mean yours are overheating).
Under the Hood
It's not uncommon for the most significant issues to be those you have to look under the hood to find. However, many people are not even aware of the warning signs you should be looking for. While the owner's manual can do a good job of helping you navigate odds and ends, there are some other signs of damage and wear and tear that you should acknowledge, including:
- The levels of engine oil and other fluids (you should also be checking under the vehicle for these)
- Anything that may be cracked, torn, or loose
- Corrosion on the battery, which is often characterized by a green, white, or brown tint
- Whether your timing belt/chain is intact
While this is a shortlist of things that could be wrong under the hood, there may be a significantly greater amount of damage that you may not realize on your own. Additionally, ensure that you are paying attention to any warning signs that may appear as you are driving, such as the check engine light coming on, weird noises, or feeling like your vehicle is jerking when accelerating.
Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable
Although ignoring mechanical issues in a vehicle may seem like an everyday thing that most people do, it can be considered negligent upkeep. When this routine maintenance goes ignored and becomes the reason for a mechanical-related car crash, our team can help hold the responsible individuals accountable. Schedule a free consultation with Effres & Effres by calling (818) 222-9720 or filling out this short form.