10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off
A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps. Motorists should plan ahead to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility.
Car Care Council offers three suggestions for a traveler's 10-minute pre- trip checklist:
- Check all fluids - There are several fluids that require attention: Engine Oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluids, and windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
- Check all hoses and belts - A belt failure can affect the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering, and the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.
- Check the tires - Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.
Follow these tips to maximize fuel efficiency of your vehicle:
- Vehicle gas caps - about 17% of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
- Under inflated tires - when tires aren't inflated properly it's like driving with a parking brake on. It can cost a mile or two per gallon.
- Worn spark plugs - A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in electrical and chemical erosion from heat.
- Dirty air filters - A clogged air filter creates a "rich" mixture - the proportion of gas to air is incorrect. This wastes fuel and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.
- Don't drive aggresively - Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% on city streets.
- Avoid excessive idling - sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
- Drive the speed limit - Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mile driven over 60 results in an additional 10 cents per gallon. Increase fuel efficiency by using cruise control.
I used to live in this area and when I returned to buy a car I was happy to see this shop was still around. They did a pre-sale inspection for me, and were able to work me into their busy day. The cost was $139, and would include up to 3 cars to be inspected. To compare, the Toyota dealer was $160 per car and it's only a visual inspection. This was a great relief to know I could look at multiple cars without paying for each one. They did a thorough inspection and talked me through the whole thing. I was super impressed with their knowledge and dedication to doing a good job. I would trust them with other needs for my vehicle.
Do you remember when mechanics were the good guys? Truly loyal to their craft of automotive wizardry? When was the last time a "service writer" smiled (without deviously licking their chops), and made sustained eye contact with you when entering the facility? In movies they are helpful, honest, and dependable. Although in real life most interactions with the auto repair industry leave one with a sense of wonder, doubt, and the ever present, possible easy deception.... Have you ever encountered a mechanic or shop that told you what you need to do, what you should do and what you should save for? I know it's an easy concept, just think about it for a second..... Automotive enthusiasts aka repair technicians/mechanics know that your vehicle is an investment, not just a transportation device. In transportation safety is always paramount, so why not trust in people who see every vehicle as an extension of the customer (it is your baby after all) and treat it more like a doctor would a patient? With doctors, you make an appointment you walk in, they ask questions, and charge you $150 dollars. Then send you off to the next place for some testing, but you trust them because they have a large building, spotless uniforms and clean floors (dealerships). Why not take your baby/ investment to an automotive Dr. and shamen, who has the equivalent education of an 3 automotive PHD's (owner/ lead tech has ~40 years of successful businesses)! Long story short... I, myself am a mechanic and frequently take my children/ cars to his shop for all repairs. There is no greater remark possible in the auto repair industry than a referral!!! I guess this is mine. Thanks Grey! And remember, diagnostic fees are expected in all industries! You are paying for Dr's visit after all!