Motorists: Disregarding Auto Repairs Is Dangerous

<b>Motorists: Disregarding Auto Repairs Is Dangerous</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The power of the dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it once did. And it has prompted some motorists to cut back on maintenance or put off needed vehicle repairs due to tight budgets, especially if the vehicle remains drivable. But, delaying certain repairs can be a dangerous gamble for motorists.

Disregarding maintenance on your vehicle can definitely result in costly repairs. However, AAA reminds motorists that ignoring their vehicle’s upkeep also can put them, their passengers and others on the road in danger.

Monitor these five areas for safer driving and increased vehicle reliability:

1. Get a grip on traction. Worn tires with little tread are much more likely to hydroplane on wet pavement or lose traction in the snow, resulting in a loss of braking power and steering control — two of the most dangerous situations in which drivers can find themselves.

Insert a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires.

2. Don’t suspend needed suspension work. Neglecting to maintain undercar components — especially struts and shock absorbers which wear out as more miles are driven — can cause drivers to lose control on sudden turns or at higher speeds.

3. Put a halt on brake malfunctions. Old brake fluid or low fluid levels can lead to brake fade or failure. Moisture-contaminated fluid also increases corrosion in the brake hydraulic system, which can include expensive electronic anti-lock brake system (ABS) components.

Inspect the brake fluid level at every oil change. If the level has fallen below the “low” mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system. Seeing a professional cannot wait.

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing the brake fluid every two years to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Check vehicle owner’s manuals for specific recommendations.

4. Don’t let fluids checks leak out of your maintenance routine. Leaking fluids mean that your vehicle needs maintenance. Oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid are all flammable and can burst into flame when they meet a hot engine or exhaust component. Fluid leaks are the number-one cause of vehicle fires.

5. Keep good vision in sight. Motorists need to see the road. Worn, cracked or brittle windshield wipers will limit visibility because they cannot remove insects, grime and other debris from the windshield. A good spray of windshield washer fluid will help wiper blades remove contaminants.

Certified technicians at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can provide motorists with trustworthy guidance on repairs and vehicle safety. Shops can be identified by the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign, or by searching online at AAA.com/Repair.

John Nielsen joined the AAA executive management team in 1998 as national director of the Approved Auto Repair network. Nielsen has 30 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has held an ASE Master Automotive Technician certification, authored the book “Making Sense of Car Care” and given testimony to the state and national legislatures, and he now serves as Editor in Chief of AAA’s new car and truck reviews. He is a regular guest on radio and TV shows throughout the country.

This Summer, Take a Brake for Vehicle Safety

<b>This Summer, Take a Brake for Vehicle Safety</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Each summer, families brave the heat to take road trips, go to barbeques and enjoy baseball games. Although all of these activities can be a lot of fun, they can also require a lot of time spent in the car. One of the most important, and most overlooked, components of vehicle safety and maintenance is the brake system. Keeping your brake system in tip-top shape can help you stay safer on the road and avoid costly repairs in the long run.

The typical brake system in a passenger vehicle consists of disc brakes on the front wheels and disc or drum brakes on the rear. When a driver depresses the brake pedal, a piston in the master cylinder forces brake fluid through a series of metal lines, rubber hoses and various valves to the brake assemblies located at each wheel. This causes the brakes to engage, stopping the vehicle. Over time, brake pads (disc brakes) and brake shoes (drum brakes) will wear out with normal use, requiring replacement.

Firestone Complete Auto Care recommends having your brake system inspected and serviced according to your vehicle’s owner’s manual, or at the first sign of a problem. Here are some brake warning signs:

– The brake warning light comes on, which may indicate a potential loss of braking capability.

– There’s a high-pitched squeal or a metallic grinding noise when you depress the brake pedal.

– The brake pedal either feels mushy or requires extreme pressure when depressed.

– The vehicle pulls to one side while braking.

– The brakes vibrate or pulsate when applied.

If you experience any of these warning signs, you should have an ASE Certified technician inspect your brake system. These symptoms may indicate possible brake system issues, including worn brake pads or shoes, air in the brake lines, leaking brake fluid or warped brake rotors.

Before getting on the road this summer, take some time to make sure your vehicle is in proper working order — there’s always time to brake for safety.

Trisha Hessinger is a former racecar driver and nationally recognized automotive education specialist for Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Neglected Car Service Costing Motorists

<b>Neglected Car Service Costing Motorists</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In difficult economic times, it’s natural to cut back on spending, but the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) advise that putting off automotive maintenance and service can cost you more in the long run, with small problems growing into more expensive repairs. For example, failure to replace worn brake pads or a faulty oxygen sensor — both relatively easy services for qualified auto technicians — can result in expensive brake rotor service or costly replacement of the vehicle’s catalytic converter, respectively.

A survey of ASE-certified master automotive technicians indicated that motorists should expect a well-maintained vehicle to last up to twice as long as one that’s been neglected. Among the more frequently neglected items, according to these certified pros, are oil changes, tire and brake service, wheel alignment, air and fuel filters and transmission service. In addition, a well-maintained vehicle gets better gasoline mileage, pollutes less, is safer to operate and commands a better resale value, notes ASE.

To help consumers choose a repair shop that fits their needs, ASE offers the following checklist advice:

– Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.

– Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions.

– Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

– Ask if the repair facility specializes or if it usually handles your type of repair work.

– Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community or customer service awards.

– Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work and certification by ASE.

– Look for the ASE sign or logo; it means the shop employs nationally certified technicians.

For more information and seasonal car care advice, visit www.ase.com.