Are You Ready For The Road?
An average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, some as a result of unperformed vehicle maintenance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each year, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.
Most mechanical failures can be traced to neglected maintenance. For example, the U. S. Department of Transportation reports the leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our nation's highways is overheating, a condition that is easily avoidable. Other deficiencies that are simple to detect include low antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts and defective cooling system hoses.
Checking tire pressure and inflating a tire costs nothing, yet an average of 21 percent of cars inspected in check lanes during National Car Care Month have under inflated tires. This can lead to a blowout and a serious accident.
Fuel Saving Tips
The Car Care Council offers these fuel-saving tips:
Vehicle Gas Caps
Even a seemingly small issue like a damaged or loose gas cap can have significant consequences. Approximately 17 percent of vehicles on the roads suffer from gas caps that are damaged, loose, or completely missing, leading to a startling vaporization of around 147 million gallons of fuel annually. Regularly inspecting and ensuring the proper sealing of your gas cap can prevent such unnecessary fuel loss.
Under Inflated Tires
Properly inflated tires are crucial for optimal fuel efficiency. Driving with underinflated tires creates a resistance similar to driving with the parking brake engaged, resulting in the loss of a mile or two per gallon. Regularly monitoring and maintaining the correct tire pressure can significantly improve fuel efficiency, ensuring a smoother and more economical driving experience.
Worn Spark Plugs
The spark plugs in your vehicle, be it four, six, or eight in number, endure an extraordinary amount of stress with each firing, occurring up to 3 million times every 1,000 miles. Such relentless use leads to a substantial buildup of heat, as well as electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty or worn spark plug can cause misfiring, leading to fuel wastage. It is essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for timely spark plug replacements to ensure optimal fuel efficiency and engine performance.
Dirty Air Filters
An air filter clogged with dust, dirt, and insects can significantly impede airflow, creating a "rich" fuel mixture where an excessive amount of gas is burned in relation to the available air. This not only leads to wastage of fuel but also causes the engine to lose power. By simply replacing a clogged air filter, you can witness a marked improvement in gas mileage, saving as much as 10 percent per gallon. This seemingly small maintenance step can result in substantial long-term savings while enhancing the overall performance of your vehicle.
Don't Drive Aggressively
Aggressive driving habits, such as sudden accelerations and abrupt stops, can significantly reduce gas mileage. In fact, aggressive driving can decrease gas mileage by up to 33% on the highway and 5% on city streets. Opting for smoother driving habits can substantially improve fuel efficiency.
Avoid Excessive Idling
Allowing a vehicle to idle for extended periods consumes fuel without yielding any mileage. Minimize unnecessary idling, and avoid letting the vehicle warm up for more than one to two minutes as excessive idling contributes to unnecessary fuel consumption.
Drive the Speed Limit
Maintaining a consistent speed and adhering to the speed limit can play a vital role in fuel efficiency. Gas mileage tends to decrease rapidly at speeds exceeding 60 mph. For every mile driven above 60 mph, you can expect an additional 10 cents per gallon in fuel costs. Utilizing cruise control can also help in maintaining a steady speed, thus enhancing fuel efficiency during highway driving.
A 10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off
Car Care Council offers three suggestions for a traveler's 10-minute pre-trip checklist:
Check All Fluids
The first part of our preventative maintenance program deals with your vehicle's fluids. Your car needs these fluids to keep running smoothly and prevent overheating. Most of our fluid change services are completed quickly so you can get back on the road in Thousand Oaks, CA.
Our technicians are happy to monitor and refill your engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, anti-freeze, power steering and wiper fluids. We also perform checks on your radiator to ensure there are no small leaks caused by stones and other road debris.
Check Hoses and Belts
Your car's timing belts are extremely important to examine during the course of preventative maintenance. There are a number of events that need to take place for one full revolution of your car's engine. These belts ensure that they all line up with each other, and occur at exactly the right moment.
Should the belts become damaged or break, the events can fall out of sync and happen at the wrong time, which can be seriously detrimental to the health of your engine and your car overall. Shelley's Precision Auto Center ensures that all your car's belts are healthy, and that all of those events keep happening at exactly the right time.
Check The Tires
Regular tire maintenance is crucial for safe and efficient driving. Start by checking the inflation of your tires, as maintaining the correct tire pressure is essential for optimal performance. Under-inflated tires can lead to decreased fuel efficiency and uneven wear. Conversely, over-inflated tires can compromise traction and handling. Inspecting the tread pattern is equally important.
Look for signs of uneven wear, which may suggest the need for a wheel alignment. Proper alignment ensures that all four tires are making consistent contact with the road, extending tire life and improving fuel efficiency. Additionally, check for bulges and bald spots on the tire surface, as these can indicate structural damage or tire wear that requires immediate attention.
Not only can a pre-trip inspection help reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with one's own technician who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car's performance, it's comforting to know proper precautions were taken.
"While a last minute checkup is better than no checkup, motorists should plan ahead to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps," said the Car Care Council's Executive Director, Rich White.
Discover More About Prices and Repair Services At Shelley's Precision Auto Center in Thousand Oaks
What our clients are saying about us
We have established longterm and stable partnerships with various clients thanks to our excellence in solving their automotive needs!
Absolutely love Shelley's and I am a repeat and ongoing customer! I'm always looking for a place that I feel comfortable going to on my own without my fiance as I'm not mechanically savvy and this is it! Christy, who is at the front desk and keeps this place running is so warm and welcoming. She does her job well and is always moving whether it is answering phone calls or managing all the different keys and customers. She remembered me after my first visit! The mechanics here are trustworthy and do their job well. I've gotten two reasonably priced oil changes and also brought my car in for a tire repair and I'm very happy with all my interactions at Shelley's. I would suggest making an appointment or dropping off your car because this place IS BUSY. If you are doing a walk in expect to wait a couple of hours, but otherwise I will definitely be back for all my car related concerns!
Christy, who runs the front of the shop, is the best. I needed to get my car smog checked. The problem was I had a check engine light. Shelley's did a diagnosis and was able to clear the check engine, but the codes would still not pass. We were able to assess the problem that could have been $$$ in parts and labor for a catalytic converter, but there was an alternative to flush out the codes for an indefinite amount of miles. I checked once a week before work at Shelley's to see if it my car cleared. Every time, denied. Then my check engine light went on again! Hope was lost. I gave up going to Shelley's for months. Until today. When I got in my car and was heading to work the check engine light was off. I immediately went to Shelley's. The codes were clean! We ran the smog and passed. I am legit on the road again. Thanks for your persistence with me Shelley's! I'll be a lifetime customer.