With football season here it’s always interesting to see which plays get challenged by instant replay, and which don’t. The instant replay challenge is a fairly new addition to the game, based on the desire for the officials to “get it right”. The concept is simple. Get a second look at the play to make sure what they think happened actually happened. With your car, the same principles apply. Regular visual inspections can help keep you from breaking down at inopportune times, help save you larger repairs, and keep you safe. The following are a few of the things you can look for on your vehicle which indicate potential problems, and what to do about them.
- Tires – We keep talking about them, but unless your seat belt is hanging out the door, it’s the only equipment on your vehicles which actually makes contact with the road, and as such, tires are susceptible to regular wear as well as other potential hazards. Inspection of your tires takes about 30 seconds, and could save you headaches as you drive. You should regularly check for the following issues with your tires:
- Tire pressure – With recent temperature changes your tire pressure has most likely changed. Make sure your tires are inflated properly before you leave the driveway. This increases your traction and your mileage as well as prolong the life of your tires.
Nails or other foreign objects which have punctured the tire – If you live near new construction or routinely pass places where there are building projects going on, nails, screws, and other sharp objects will regularly find their way onto the roadway and into your tires. Do not pull the object out! Get your car to 5 Points and we’ll repair the tire if it can be repaired. If you have a spare, it would be good to replace the tire before you head over.
- Uneven Tire Wear – Look for signs of uneven wear on your tires. This could be due to alignment, inflation, or other issues which affect your vehicle’s performance. The main causes of wear are as follows: Improper inflation, where either the middle of the tire or sides of the tire will wear
prematurely depending on whether the tire is over or under-inflated – cupping, where the edge of the tire develops dips in it, which is usually caused by suspension problems – Feathering of the treads is a condition where the individual treads wear unevenly, usually caused by improper toe-in setting or worn suspension parts – and finally alignment related issues which cause the tire to wear on one side more than the other.
- Brakes and Rotors – On many vehicles, you can see the brake pads without too much effort. If you’ve got disc brakes, oftentimes you can see the pad without taking the wheel off. Look for grooves in the rotor, which is the large metal disc that the brakes rub against. As well, visually inspect the pad itself. If in doubt about its safety, bring it to 5 Points and we’ll inspect it for you.
- Windows – Check your windshield for chips or cracks. If there is a chip in your windshield, bring it in right away. Oftentimes, we can fix the chip without too much effort. If left untreated, chips often turn into cracks which require replacement of your windshield.
- Under the Hood – Most vehicle owners never open the hood of their vehicle. Looking under the hood can reveal interesting information about the state of your vehicle. Even though you may not know what you’re looking at, recognizing changes in the engine compartment can help you spot problems before they get out of hand. Regularly checking your fluids – engine coolant, oil, and even washer fluid can reveal leaks or other issues with the vehicle. Always make sure the engine is cool when checking your oil and coolant. Look for leaks around hoses and gaskets. If you find any, bring it in to 5 points and we’ll diagnose it for you.
- Body Issues – If your vehicle is older, rust will eventually become an issue. Look for worn paint or scratches in the finish. These areas will eventually succumb to the elements if not repaired.
Like the instant replay in football, a good set of eyes is invaluable in spotting problems and being able to correct them. As always, there is no substitute for a professional evaluation. If you see something you’re not sure of, give 5 points a call and we can help you keep your car safe and running smoothly.