1950 Volkswagen Beetle

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Proper Car Maintenance: It Could Save Your Life

by Robert Simmons

We all know proper upkeep to the engine and brakes are vital to vehicle safety but, in addition, there are a number of other things on your car that should be maintained to keep your car working properly. Not only do routine maintenance tasks help keep your car safe, but you'll often save money too by avoiding potentially expensive future repairs. To help you remember to check these items you can make yourself a schedule, refer to the manufacturer's suggested schedule in your owner's manual or try using any of these car maintenance computer apps. No matter how you remember to do it, make sure to include these important tasks:

Check Your Windshield Wipers

The rubber on windshield wipers can dry out, become brittle, crack and even break off. Eventually the rubber might start to come off, but before that happens, they might skip or chatter across the surface of the windshield in an annoying fashion making it hard for you to see properly. Check to see if there is any metal corrosion or tears in the rubber. The frame itself may be broken at the joints. Older wipers might create streaks across the windshield or they might not conform to the windshield itself. In winter weather, a buildup of ice on the rubber can cause problems and should be removed as soon as possible. A quick visual inspection of the wipers is often only what's required to avoid future problems.

Check Your Tires

People often don't think about their tires, especially if they don't have that many miles on their car. It's not just about the mileage, though—tires wear out simply from age. They will dry out and crack along the sides (called dry rot), especially if you live in a dry, hot climate. Should you have an extra set of tires for your vehicle, proper tire storage is a must. Place your tires, covered if possible, in a cool dry place away from the sunlight. If you have whitewalls, it is best to store them with the white sides facing each other.

Checking tire pressure photo.

Regularly check the air or nitrogen pressure in your tires as well. Tire pressure that's too high or too low puts you at risk of a blowout, cuts down on your mileage, and wears the tire out faster than necessary. Make it a habit to keep a pressure guage in your glove compartment.

To help keep you safe on the road and give you better mileage, always replace tires with excessive worn tread or dry rot as soon as possible. (They could prevent you from passing a vehicle inspection anyway.) Nexen Tires from TireBuyer start at about $50 each and come in a variety of performance categories.

Make Sure Your Seat Belts Work Properly

Seat belts are designed to protect you from becoming a projectile during an accident. The newer ones lock on impact, which could also happen when you brake hard or yank on the shoulder belt quickly. Not all seat belts do this, though, and most older cars don't have this feature.

Whether your seat belt has this locking feature or not, make sure it latches properly and buckles tight. If it's not working right and won't stay latched, take the vehicle in for service and get it fixed. Don't take a chance on something like a seat belt not working. Most importantly, be sure to buckle up when you are in a car.

Headlights Can Affect Safety

Another often-neglected area of maintenance for your car is the headlights. If your headlights are dirty or fogged over, you won't be able to see the road properly in the dark. People generally let headlight maintenance go to the point where they end up needing the lenses cleaned or replaced. A yellowed lens can cut down on the projection of the full light of the beam misleading some drivers to think they are getting the proper light. Reader's Digest provides some tips to keep your car clean, including your headlights.

One should visually check out the headlights to make sure both the low and high beams are working properly. Check the alignment to see the beams are pointing correctly; that is, not to have one beam pointing up and the other down. Headlights also need to be aligned correctly so you can see everything ahead as easily as possible to avoid accidents. Proper headlight maintenance is an important part of caring for your car and yet is often neglected until a major job in cleaning the lights is required.

About the Author:
Robert Simmons lives as an editor, muscle car fanatic, and a Matchbox car collector.




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