Archive for the ‘wheel alignment’ Tag

Driving in the “Cone Zone” Can be Tough on Vehicles

It’s bound to happen – that moment when you enter into the “cone zone,” road construction where you will likely hit a bump or two, or come across loose stones and other hazards. These rough road conditions can be tough on a vehicle’s steering and suspension system and can throw out the alignment, while loose stones have the potential to damage the vehicle’s exterior or windshield, according to the Car Care Council.

“Even the most careful driver, who is traveling slowly and carefully through road construction, can hit an unexpected bump or other road hazards,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The key is to pay attention to your car and if you think there’s a problem, have it taken care of as soon as possible.”

The symptoms of steering and suspension or wheel alignment problems are uneven tire wear, pulling to one side, noise and vibration while cornering or loss of control. The main parts of the systems are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals or hub units and tie rod ends.

The council recommends that motorists have their vehicles checked out immediately if any of these symptoms exist, as steering and suspension systems are key safety-related components and largely determine the car’s ride and handling. Regardless of road conditions, these systems should be checked annually and a wheel alignment should be performed at the same time.

Motorists also should do frequent visual checks of their vehicle’s exterior and windshield to identify any chips, dings or cracks. These are small problems that can become costly repairs and safety hazards if they aren’t taken care of immediately.

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AAA gives advice on how to avoid pothole damage

It’s that time of year again! Most of the snow has melted but with temperatures still dropping below freezing most nights, above-freezing temperatures during the day, the melting ice or left over snow expands and constricts the asphalt, creating potholes.

Of course the best thing to do is to avoid hitting potholes in the first place, however that is not always possible when the pothole is too big to avoid or hidden beneath a puddle of water. Increasing following distance and looking at the road ahead for potholes can help in avoiding them in some circumstances. If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely and check the rear view mirror before any abrupt braking.

Potholes cause a variety of woes: lost hubcaps, warped wheel alignment, damaged tires, fractured undercarriages, bent axles, smashed mufflers, out-of-shape shocks and rattled nerves. Hitting a pothole at a high speed increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, shocks, struts or springs.

To report potholes on local or county roads, call your town or county’s Highway Department.

AAA has the following tips to avoid damage to your car from potholes:

– Keep an eye on traffic patterns. Cars that slow down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.
– Beware of snow, ice or water that may be concealing a deep pothole.
–  Avoid swerving. Swerving can cause a loss of vehicle control.
– Slow down. Carefully avoid sharp impact with potholes.
–  Roll through. Rolling through the pothole is better than braking rapidly.
– Inflate tires properly. Over inflated and under inflated tires increase risk of tire and wheel damage.

Potholes also drain the pocketbooks and wallets of the vehicle owner. Costs for repairing damage caused by potholes can range from $50 for a simple wheel alignment to $500 or more for replacing a top-of-the-line alloy wheel. In some cases, damage for poor road conditions can add up to $2,000 or more in repair costs over the life of a car, insurance agents say. Compounding matters, vehicle suspension and steering components may also be affected.

Motorists file about 500,000 auto insurance claims each year for pothole damage, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. The group estimates nearly $4.8 billion is spent each year to repair damage to Americans’ cars resulting from run-ins with potholes, utility cuts and other dangerous road conditions.

Motorists in pothole-prone areas should understand the need for proper collision coverage to avoid costly repairs, some insurance agents contend.

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