A pothole can be your car’s worst enemy. These holes or pits on a road’s surface can seriously damage a vehicle’s ride-control system.
If you do drive over a pothole, the Car Care Council recommends that you have your car’s shocks or struts checked to make sure they aren’t damaged.
Shocks and struts control how vehicles ride and handle. According to the Car Care Council, the shock absorbers, or struts as they are referred to on late-model vehicles, act as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of a car’s springs. The springs absorb the road bumps; without them, the vehicle would continually bounce and bound down the road, making driving extremely difficult.
Shocks and struts also control spring and suspension movement to keep the tires in contact with the road. This affects steering, stability and braking. A broken shock or strut could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create driving dangers.
It’s important to be aware of the warning signs that your vehicle’s shocks or struts may need to be replaced.
- The vehicle rolls or sways on turns.
- The vehicle’s front-end dives when braking.
- The vehicle’s rear end squats when accelerating.
- The vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding, rough road.
- The vehicle “bottoms out” or thumps on bumps.
- The vehicle sits lower in the front or rear.
- The vehicle is leaking or has signs of physical damage, such as rusting or dents.
- There’s a loss of directional control during sudden stops of the vehicle.
Many components affect a vehicle’s handling. Having your car inspected, if you experience any of the above signs, is good preventive maintenance and can help its parts wear less and last longer.
“If you think you may have a worn out or broken shock or strut, don’t wait,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Whether you replace it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, this situation should be taken care of right away.”
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.
Last year marked a turning point in which Earth-friendly alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles gained major attention and an increasing market share. On top of that, the AAA Great Battery Roundup collected more than 20,000 used vehicle batteries and disposed of them in an environmentally sound manner.
But you don’t need to have old batteries lying around or buy a different vehicle to protect the environment. According to AAA spokesman Michael Calkins, you can make a meaningful contribution by adopting two easy-to-implement strategies: regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits.
The following tips can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.
- Keep your engine running at peak performance in order to conserve fuel. Perform regular vehicle maintenance at the intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Seek timely service if the “check engine” warning light remains illuminated on the dash.
- Check the air pressure in your car’s tires regularly. Underinflated tires require your engine to work harder and use more fuel to maintain a given speed.
- Have your vehicle’s air conditioning serviced only by technicians who are certified to properly handle and recycle automotive refrigerants. Older air conditioning systems contain ozone-depleting chemicals that could be released into the atmosphere.
- Some older vehicles use switches that contain highly toxic mercury to activate hood, trunk and glove-box lights. Many organizations, including a number of AAA clubs across the country, now host mercury “switch out” programs in which these environmentally hazardous parts are removed for recycling and replaced with nontoxic mechanical switches.
- Avoid “jack rabbit” starts, sudden acceleration and speeds above the posted limits; all of these habits guzzle gas.
- Properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Call your local government waste management agency to find out how. Never dispose of fluids on the ground or in any manner that might allow them to make their way into groundwater, lakes or streams.
Proper vehicle maintenance and environmentally friendly driving habits conserve natural resources, reduce exhaust emissions and reward you with a vehicle that will last longer and be safer to drive. In other words, when you “go green,” the Earth wins, your car wins — and you are the biggest winner of all!
According to the 2000 census, more than 112 million people drive or carpool to work daily.
With all these people on the road, drivers need to take every precaution to ensure they arrive safely at their destinations. Here are some tips to heed in your travels.
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Follow the recommended service intervals found in your vehicle owner’s manual, always monitor hoses and belts, and check filters, spark plugs and fluids. Also, be sure tires are properly inflated and gas levels are sufficient.
- Carry an emergency kit. In addition to standards such as a first aid kit and battery jumper cables, consider adding the Autolite TriGlo safety light to your vehicle emergency kit. Powered by four AA batteries, this compact light serves a dual purpose: It shines like a flashlight and alerts like a flare. Triangular in shape, the TriGlo light can be used as a bright spotlight or as a blinking safety triangle to warn oncoming traffic of a motorist’s presence.
- Buckle up. When lap and shoulder belts are used correctly, they reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
- Know your route. Before hitting the road, take the time to map out your route. Motor clubs such as AAA provide auto travelers with maps and detailed directions to their destinations. Be aware of traffic, construction and weather advisories along your route so you can make alternate plans should these conditions affect your drive.
- Reduce driver distraction. Traffic, construction and careless drivers are distractions beyond your control. However, you can reduce the risk of an accident by decreasing the distractions inside your vehicle.For instance, to avoid the glare from overhead lights used by your passengers, consider a product such as the Autolite SpotGlo seatbelt light source. This compact, battery-operated recessed light clips easily onto a passenger’s seatbelt and slides smoothly on the strap for desired positioning. It directs a powerful LED light source right where passengers need it, without distracting the driver.
No matter where you’re headed, heed these suggestions to arrive safely at your destination. Happy travels!