Archive for the ‘brakes’ Tag

Be Car Care Aware Before Your Holiday Road Trip

The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about your vehicle making it over the river and through the woods in time for dinner at grandma’s house. The Car Care Council recommends that before hitting the road for the holidays, you take a little time to have your vehicle thoroughly inspected to make sure it is road ready.

“The last thing anyone wants during the holiday season is to break down miles from home in the middle of nowhere,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It’s always a wise idea to have your vehicle checked out before you leave home to identify any potential problems that can be serviced before your holiday journey.”

The non-profit Car Care Council suggests a pre-trip check of the following items on your vehicle to help ensure a safe holiday road trip: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection will not only make sure your vehicle is running right, but it will also help make the trip a lot less stressful,” continued White. “Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted neighborhood technician, being car care aware before you leave home will help you relax and enjoy the ride to your holiday destination without the worry of unexpected, costly car trouble.”

As a precaution, the Car Care Council recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, tire-changing jack, tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, flashlight and blankets. A copy of the council’s 80-page Car Care Guide should be kept in the glove box as a reference and can be ordered free-of-charge at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/11/be-car-care-aware-holiday-road-trip/

The 6 Worst Towing Mistakes

Summer is in full swing and that means roads full of vacationers towing their homes-away-from-home behind them. If you plan to be one of them, make sure to avoid these common towing mistakes — you’ll enjoy your trip much more and so will the people driving behind you.

1. Not knowing your ratings

Your tow vehicle (the vehicle doing the towing) can only carry and haul so much weight. Overloading your tow vehicle, trailer, or both can cause a whole host of problems like failing brakes, broken suspensions, overheated transmissions, or blown-out tires. None of these things make for happy campers, and some can be very dangerous.

Remember to look up your vehicle’s tow ratings before you attempt to tow anything and make sure your hitch system matches your vehicle’s towing specs. All of the following numbers need to be checked and complied with. Your tow vehicle’s specs are generally listed in your owner’s manual and on the sill of your driver’s-side door. Your trailer’s unloaded weight (along with its weight ratings) can be found on its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate.

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR): the weight limit for your vehicle (including the vehicle itself plus passengers, cargo, and accessories).

Gross combination weight rating (GCWR): the maximum weight of the tow vehicle plus the loaded trailer, equipment, passengers, fuel, and anything else you plan to haul or carry.

Gross axle weight rating (GAWR): the amount of weight a single axle can safely bear. It’s important to know this value for both your tow vehicle and your trailer.

Towing capacity: the amount of weight your vehicle can pull.

Tongue weight: the amount of the trailer’s weight that is borne by the trailer hitch. Ideally, this should be about 10 percent of the total trailer weight. Too much tongue weight will make your vehicle’s steering less responsive. Too little and the trailer might sway. Tongue weight can be measured using a specialized scale (available at trailer supply shops).

If you’re having trouble estimating the combined weight of your trailer plus cargo, take the loaded trailer to a vehicle scale at a nearby weigh station or truck stop.

2. Not checking the local regulations

A ticket is nobody’s idea of a great vacation souvenir, so remember that towing laws and restrictions vary from state to state. While most states require taillights on your trailer and safety chains that connect the trailer to the tow vehicle, some states also require special braking equipment or additional side and rearview mirrors.

States also differ on their maximum towing speeds, the maximum trailer width, and the number of vehicles you’re allowed to tow. So be sure to know the laws, not just for your home state, but for any state you might pass through.

3. Forgetting to put on the brakes (and the wires)

The added weight of the trailer gives your vehicle extra momentum, which means it takes longer to reduce your speed. For this reason, many states require trailers over a certain weight (usually 1,500 lb.) to be equipped with a separate braking system. Trailer brakes not only improve control, but also will stop the trailer if it gets separated from the tow vehicle. The 2 types of trailer brakes are electronic (which are attached to a controller in the tow vehicle) and surge (independent hydraulic brakes that are activated by momentum). Not all jurisdictions allow surge brakes, so check your local laws.

Because cars behind you can’t see the lights on your tow vehicle, federal law requires trailers to be equipped with brake lights, taillights, turn signals, and reflectors. These are powered by a connector that hooks up to your vehicle’s electrical system. Make sure your wires are taut enough not to drag on the road, but loose enough not to disconnect during turns.

4. Loading your cargo improperly

If your trailer is off-balance, it will be difficult to control. Make sure cargo is distributed evenly, with about 60 percent of the total weight in front of the axle (but not too far forward). Secure cargo items to prevent them from shifting and keep the overall center of gravity low.

5. Forgetting you’re towing a trailer

No matter how strong or nimble your tow vehicle is, it’ll be less responsive once it has a trailer behind it. Since you won’t be able to accelerate, turn, or brake as fast, you’ll want to look further up the road and give yourself extra time and space to change lanes or slow down. It’s also a good idea to do some short practice drives before heading out on your big trip.

6. Not checking tire pressure

If you haven’t taken your trailer out for a while, there’s a good chance the tires need inflating. Driving a fully loaded trailer with underinflated tires is very dangerous — underinflated tires produce more friction, which can lead to blow-outs and possible rollovers. Be sure to check the tire pressure on both your tow vehicle and your trailer before you go (and while you’re at it, check the tires themselves for signs of wear).

Check your coverage capacity

One safety precaution you should always take is having adequate insurance. If your tow vehicle is insured, you can get basic liability coverage for your trailer under your auto policy. But travel trailer insurance offers much broader coverage, including total loss recovery, personal effects replacement, funds for lodging if your trailer is damaged, and even a full-timers package (if you live in your trailer year-round).

Read more at: http://blog.esurance.com/the-6-worst-towing-mistakes/#.VZ6jS2Dpjdm

Seven Signs Your Brakes Need to be Inspected

The Car Care Council reminds motorists that routine brake inspections are essential to safe driving and maintaining your vehicle.

“When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists watch for seven signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

1. Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.

2. Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.

3. Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.

4. Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.

5. Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.

6. Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.

7. Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Using the Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you remember to have your brakes inspected and take better care of your vehicle. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2014/08/seven-signs-your-brakes-need-to-be-inspected/

Home for the Holidays: Is Your Car Up for the Journey?

Before you pack up the car to head home for the holidays, the Car Care Council reminds you to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Conducting a thorough vehicle inspection will help you avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

“It’s easy to remember to get your family ready for the holiday festivities, but what about preparing the car that’s going to get you there?” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Having a pre-inspection performed on your car will give you peace of mind as you travel and help make your journey safer.”

Before leaving home, the Car Care Council recommends a check of the following, often overlooked, items: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection provides the opportunity to have service repairs made at home by your own trusted technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chance of costly and dangerous trouble on the road,” said Rich While.

The Car Care Council also recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, a flashlight and a blanket. A copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide should be kept in the glove box and can be ordered free of charge at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

As read on: http://www.carcare.org/2014/11/home-holidays-car-journey/

September is National Preparedness Month: Make Sure Your Car is Ready if Disaster Hits

Would your car be ready if you had to leave at a moment’s notice? If you were stranded in your car, would you be prepared? During National Preparedness Month in September, the non-profit Car Care Council is reminding drivers of the importance of regular maintenance and do-it-yourself checks, as well as a stocked emergency kit.

“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms, and you don’t always have time to prepare,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It is important and gives you peace of mind to know that your vehicle is always ready for the task.”

The Car Care Council recommends checking the following to make sure your car is ready for the unexpected:

Tire Tread: Tire tread helps your car grip the road. Having low tire tread is especially dangerous when driving in wet, flood-like, snowy or icy conditions. Check your tread easily with a penny.

Tire pressure: Pressure that is too low or too high can affect gas mileage, tread wear and vehicle performance. Check your tires once a month when they are still cold, using the PSI (pounds per square inch) number located on the driver door or in the owner’s manual.

Fluids Check: Check your car’s fluids once a month or take a peek when you fill the gas tank. Top off fluids, such as your oil and coolant, and visit a technician if you suspect a leak.

Belts: A broken engine belt can literally stop you in your tracks. Look for signs of excessive wear or looseness.

Brakes: Your vehicle’s brakes are very important for safety; make sure they are ready in any condition. Have your brakes inspected by a technician once a year, and be aware of any signs of brake trouble, including noise, pulling and vibration while braking.

Battery: Even in a non-emergency, it is stressful when your car does not start. Extreme temperatures, such as summer and winter, can wear the battery. A technician can test that the battery is charging at the correct rate. If your battery is three years or older, it may need to be replaced.

Emergency Kit: A vehicle emergency kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets. Keep a copy of the Car Care Council’s new Car Care Guide in your glove box for information on vehicle systems and maintenance. Order your free copy online at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

For more information on how to stay safe behind the wheel when a disaster hits, download the information sheet from the American Public Health Association’s Get Ready program: http://www.getreadyforflu.org/facts/DrivingDisastersWeb.pdf.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2014/09/september-national-preparedness-month-make-sure-car-ready-disaster-hits/