Each year, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Some of these incidents result from unperformed vehicle maintenance.
The U. S. Department of Transportation reports the leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our nation's highways is overheating, a condition that is easily avoidable. Other deficiencies that are simple to detect include low antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts, and defective cooling system hoses.
"While a last minute checkup is better than no checkup, motorists should plan to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps," said the Car Care Council's Executive Director, Rich White.
Additional considerations include:
Don't be an aggressive driver. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 10 to 66 cents per gallon.
Avoid excessive idling. Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. When travelling on the highway, use cruise control to maintain a consistent speed.
Although climates vary, wipers generally need replacing every six months. An easy reminder is to change wiper blades in the spring and fall when you change your clock. Be sure the windshield washers are working correctly, too, and keep the reservoir filled with solvent.
Another essential pre-trip check should be exterior and interior lighting. Vehicle check lanes revealed an overall failure rate of over 25 percent in the lighting category. The Car Care Council reminds motorists to check their lights monthly. Other suggestions from the Council include turning on headlights both day and night, to define your car's position on the road and distance from other drivers. When your vehicle's lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn.
Not only can a pre-trip inspection help reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, but it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with one's own technician who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it gives peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car's performance, it's comforting to know proper precautions were taken.