Owning a car costs money. Car payments, fuel, and insurance can put tremendous strain on one’s finances. The one cost too often neglected, however, is the cost of automobile maintenance.
Oftentimes, a car lets its driver know it needs attention subtly. Almost too subtly to attract attention, unfortunately. A small puddle on the driveway. Uneven treadwear. A slight grinding noise while braking. Symptoms often come on too gradually to jar one to action. Car owners may choose to wait it out, opting to allocate funds for fuel instead of a brake job. You can’t drive without fuel, after all.
Regrettably, postponing car maintenance can not only cost more money in the long run, it can be dangerous to yourself and others. Here are some aspects of maintenance that are too often neglected, along with the dangers of doing so.
Like middle-aged men, your tire doesn’t go bald overnight. Treadwear occurs so slowly you are unable to notice it day to day. Therefore, it can be hard to motivate yourself to replace your tires, so you instead try to squeeze a few thousand more miles out of them. However, a worn-out set of tires can be extremely dangerous. They make braking more difficult, increase the likelihood of hydroplaning, and are more prone to catastrophic blowouts.
The general rule of thumb is to replace your tires when only about 4/32” of tread depth remains.
Your car’s lights not only allow you to see but allow you to be seen. Therefore, they are important to your safety. Any bulb that burns out should be replaced immediately. Furthermore, headlights are prone to fading and yellowing over time, and are better replaced or restored sooner rather than later. While toothpaste has been used in a pinch to restore an ageing headlight to its former glory, an actual headlight restoration kit may prove to be a safer bet, if you aren’t compelled to replace the headlight entirely.
Reduced performance, squeaks, leaks, and more are issues that can arise within a vehicle’s braking system. While no one would dispute the importance of brakes, the repairs can be costly, leading many to put off repairs and often store a bottle of brake fluid in the glove compartment to top off the fluid reservoir as needed.
A leak should be taken seriously, as there is nothing worse than stomping on the brake pedal for an emergency stop and having it go all the way to the floor because your chronically dripping brake line or wheel cylinder finally gave up the ghost.
Worn-out pads and previously overheated rotors can increase stopping distance. At the first signs of decreased braking performance, your system should undergo inspection. You never know when that truck is going to pull out in front of you, and when it does, you’ll be grateful for your well-maintained braking system.
Windshield wiper blades and arms can be affordably replaced, but due to the fact they are only used when the wet stuff is in the air, it is easy to tolerate sub-optimal wiper performance. However, as wipers allow you to see, it is imperative they are in sound working order.
If you take care of your car, it will take care of you. This is by no means a comprehensive list of parts prone to wear that can make your driving more dangerous. A vehicle’s engine, suspension, transmission, and more should all be kept in good working order for the well-being of everyone on the road. Auto repairs can be pricey, but driving in a dangerous car can cost you much, much more.