Most of us assume that our cars will start on the first crank, and that they'll get us where we need to go safely. However, without regular inspection and maintenance, reliability will soon go out the window. If you fail to maintain your car, you'll notice decreases in performance, air quality and highway safety—and repairs will be more expensive. The Car Care Council collects inspection results from various states, and according to the latest research, 80% of cars failed at least one part of the inspection process in 2008. Here, you'll learn which systems resulted in inspection failures, and you'll learn how to maintain those systems so your car will pass a safety inspection.
Fluids and Lubricants
Based on the results of the Car Care Council study, lubricant and fluid failure rates are as follows:
- Brake fluid: 14%
- Engine oil: 32%
- Coolant: 21%
A low fluid level can negatively affect your car's performance, and it can cause safety issues and internal damage. To troubleshoot a leak, look at its color. Bright green fluid is a sign of a coolant leak, and dark brown fluid is a sign of an oil or brake fluid leak. Red fluid leaks are a sign of transmission issues, and any leak should be dealt with promptly.
Based on the above study, 15% of windshield wipers failed inspection. Wipers are an important safety feature, but are commonly overlooked until they're a problem. You should check your wiper blades occasionally, and replace them twice per year. It's a good idea to keep a spare set of blades in your car, especially during rainy season.
Air filters, belts and check engine lights cause most engine reliability-related inspection failures. Clogged air filters rob your car of performance, and you should replace the air filter at specific intervals depending on your local conditions. Drive belts can degrade over time, leading to mechanical failures as parts don't work at full capacity.
The check engine light is an indicator of a serious problem, especially if it stays on constantly. In some cases, it can indicate a need for required service at certain intervals. If your car's check engine light comes on, get the vehicle inspected as soon as possible to prevent an unsafe operating condition.
Today's cars are more reliable than those of even the recent past, but that doesn't mean they are maintenance-free. By paying attention to fluid levels, changing your windshield wipers at recommended intervals and by getting your engine serviced at places like Steven & Francine's Complete Automotive Repair Inc on a regular basis, you'll stay safe on the road--and you'll save significantly on car repairs.