Can you See, Steer, and Stop? Check Lanes Raise the Question

The car in front of you has no brake light and an approaching vehicle has only one headlight. Have you ever considered how many vehicles surrounding you are in less than in tip-top condition? The number is astounding, according to results of National Car Care Month vehicle check lanes. In fact, less than one out of four get a clean bill of health.

Nearly 20% of tires inspected are have low tire pressure or worn tread, according to Rich White, spokesman for the Car Care Council. "We’ve been hearing a lot about tires in recent years, especially when it comes to improper inflation. Our findings indicate that many motorists still are not listening.

"Worn tread surfaces are an invitation to disaster. Blowouts and hydroplaning have both been factors in too many accidents.”

Another safety issue is visibility, primarily lights and wipers. Twenty-six percent of the lights checked were inoperable. That means that for every hundred cars on the road, 26 of them have something wrong with their lighting system, such as burned out headlights, brake lights, turn signals or taillights. "This is tantamount to a disconnected phone because it compromises the motorist’s line of communication, resulting in a game of automotive Russian roulette,” says White, who recommends a monthly check of all exterior lighting.

Windshield wipers have a 19% failure rate.

"Performance and dependability may not top the charts like safety, but motorists are tempting fate when they drive an undependable vehicle," warns White, who urges car owners to be car care aware, on the alert for symptoms of potential trouble. Having batteries checked, replacing belts and hoses at recommended intervals or when these parts show signs of wear can help avoid breakdowns.

"We also recommend reviewing the vehicle’s owner’s manual for routine/scheduled maintenance charts "The same goes for fluids," he concludes. ”Keep an eye on the transmission, power steering and brake fluid as well as the coolant and oil. The scenario where these fluids are allowed to get low or dirty can spell disaster for the component(s) they protect. For example, running out of either oil or coolant can blow up an engine."

The Council promotes vehicle inspection lanes every April during National Car Care Month. The inspections are conducted throughout the country and are coordinated by local organizations and businesses.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair. For more information visit www.carcare.org.