Back to School Auto Maintenance Tips - What does that mean to you?

It feels like summer just  started, but back to school is just around the corner.  Are you, or someone you know, going to begin shuffling children between school and school activities? Are you yourself taking night classes, or someone in your household going off to college? Here are a few tidbits to consider:

  1. Probably the most important item you can do is maintain your vehicle. Keep in mind that just because your vehicle passes its safety inspection(Virginia State Inspection), that doesn't mean it's properly maintained. Several maintenance items include: brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine coolant(antifreeze), power steering fluid, differential and transfer case fluids, windshield wiper fluid, and in some cases other fluids. Pay attention to your owner's manual and have the scheduled maintenance performed in a timely manner and your car will reward you for it.
  2. When was the last time your vehicle had a DMA(digital maintenance advisory) performed? This is a good way to determine what maintenance might be required now, what can wait, and what repairs may be necessary soon. This thorough maintenance advisory will include checking all the major function items on your vehicle; the tires, suspension and steering parts, battery, brakes, exhaust, wiper blades, fluid levels and conditions, lights, engine and cabin filters, oil level and condition, as well as potential structural damage from rust or corrosion. Vehicles that have spent a good portion of their time in the northern states can have these rust and corrosion issues.
  3. What is your instrument panel telling you? Is your check engine light on? Is your tire pressure light on?  Are any other warning lights on? Some people elect to ignore these warning lights until the vehicle fails to operate altogether. There are many reasons people ignore the warning lights, but mostly the fear is it will cost too much to repair the items that will keep the light off.  The question you should be asking is; how much will it ultimately cost in repairs if I ignore the lights and more importantly, will it affect my safety? Also note any unusual or peculiar noises, vibrations, or rattles and have them checked our before they become serious problems.
  4. Does your vehicle have basic safety equipment? Is there adequate air in the spare tire? Is the jack and all the tools necessary there to change a flat tire(including the wheel lock)? How about a working flashlight with spare batteries? A few other items to consider are an easily accessible first-aid safety kit, jumper cables, cotton gloves, a basic tool kit, and a fire extinguisher. Depending on the climate you find yourself in, a blanket, ice scraper and snow shovel may also be helpful.  Hopefully you will never need some of these items, however you may save another motorists life if you do.
  5. Is  the interior of your car organized? If you've ever been unfortunate to come upon a bad vehicle accident, you've probably noticed items that belong secured in the vehicle all over the road. In many cases significant injury was caused to occupants, or worse, as a result of some loose item in the vehicle hitting them during the accident. Auto parts stores and online shops sell a variety of items to help keep the interior of your vehicle organized, use them.
  6. Do you know if your vehicle has safety equipment? Familiarize yourself and your occupants, including children, with your vehicle; where the jack and spare tire are located as well as the fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. Show them where the 4-way flasher button is located.

Safety on the road is everyone's responsibility.  Making sure 'your' care is safe is the first step toward a smooth Back to School transition.  Please allow us to help make your Safety and Security a reality as you travel.