With the average vehicle containing approximately 30,000 parts, (counting every one down to the smallest screws) it’s hard to single out one as the “most important.” Even still, with another busy travel season ahead, there are a handful of parts that you should always be aware of to keep your family safe when behind the wheel.
- Brakes: If you were forced to choose just one, the braking system could be considered the most important part of your vehicle in terms of safety. While you’ll likely need an expert to truly determine whether or not you need to replace the brake pads or rotors, there are some indicators that it’s time to stop by your neighborhood Tire Discounters store:
- You hear a screeching and/or grinding sound when applying brakes
- You feel a vibration when applying the brakes
- You see reduced responsiveness when applying the brakes
- You feel your car “pulling” to one side when applying the brakes
- Tires: You wouldn’t need brakes without ‘em. It’s literally where the rubber meets the road. Ensuring that your tires are expertly aligned, properly inflated and have an ample amount of tread will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe. If your tires’ tread depth is below 4/32 of an inch, it’s a good time to consider a replacement. To find proper air pressure, refer to your vehicle’s manual or door-jamb placard – as every vehicle has its own manufacturer recommendations.
- Battery: Few things can put a wrench in a family vacation quicker than a dead battery. This essential part of your vehicle is one of the most overlooked components – often because it doesn’t offer advanced warning when it’s about to go kaput. Since the average battery lasts between four and six years, it’s a good idea to have an expert run a test before heading out on a long family road trip – especially if you can’t remember when you last checked on it. If you are noticing that it takes a bit longer to start your engine, experiencing electrical component malfunctions (like windshield wipers) or see the battery dashboard light, it’s even more important to visit an expert – as these are all signs of a failing battery.
- Oil: No matter how old your vehicle is, keeping an eye on your oil levels can make a huge difference in the life of your engine. Over time, heat from the engine and other contaminants will turn this vital lubricant to a sludgy mess and ultimately wear things down more quickly. While the old rule of changing your oil every “3 months or 3,000 miles” is still appropriate for some vehicles, many newer ones can go 5,000-10,000 miles between oil changes, particularly when using synthetic or semi synthetic oil. To know how long your vehicle can go before getting an oil change, you should consult your owner’s manual.
- Air Filter: This is another often-overlooked part of your engine that can hinder performance, if it’s not well-maintained. Typically, air filters can last anywhere from 15,000-30,000 miles, so it’s always a good idea to have an expert check it out when they go under the hood. If you drive in areas with lots of dirt roads or construction, you might need to get a new filter more frequently. A clogged air filter can reduce your gas mileage, your horsepower and potentially cause your engine to stall. It’s also a good idea to check your cabin air filter for cleaner air and better HVAC performance.