It's that time of year again— the summer is winding down and the new school year is just around the corner. Getting ready to go back to school is a busy time for students and parents alike, but we have one more thing to add to your to-do list— car maintenance. The combination of heat, long trips and heavy loads can put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Whether you have a high school or college student who's driving himself, or you're driving a carpool, it's important to make sure your vehicle is running in top condition. Here are few back-to-school musts for your car:
- Check all fluids under the hood— Make sure that your transmission, brake, power steering and windshield wiper fluids are at the appropriate levels, as well as the engine oil and coolant.
- Inspect the Battery— We recommend having your car's entire charging system checked once a year. If your battery is more than 3 years old, have it checked.
- Look for tire wear— Inspect your tires for uneven wear and check their tread depth. Measure each tire's pressure (including the spare). Make sure that the trunk is equipped with a jack, lug wrench, and jumper cables.
- Make it clear that driving is a privilege, not a right. Even if your teenager has his or her own car, they have to earn the privilege to drive by following your rules.
- Inspect all lights— Check that the headlights, turn signals, emergency flashing lights, and brake lights are all functioning properly.
If you have a child going off to college or driving to high school for the first time, performing back-to-school maintenance on their car is a great way to teach them the basics of car maintenance. As always, if you have any questions or need any help, feel free to give us a call or schedule an appointment online!
Tractor-Trailer Safety Tips that Could Save Your Life!
If you've ever driven on the highway, you probably have a horror story about an encounter with an irresponsible or inattentive truck driver-- it seems like every other day we hear about deadly accidents involving tractor-trailers. What people don't consider, however, is that the truck drivers are not the only problem. General lack of knowledge among motorists about the challenges of driving such a large vehicle contributes greatly to these accidents. So, as you take your last few road trips this summer, consider the following about how trucks operate:
- Be aware of the truck's blind spots— Most 18-wheelers have large blind spots to the right and rear of the vehicle and smaller blind spots in the right front corner. When trying to pass a truck, do it quickly so that you're not riding in their blind area for long. The best rule of thumb is if you can't see the driver in his mirrors, he probably can't see you.
- Recognize their increased stopping distance— Tractor-trailers require more than 3 times the stopping distance than regular passenger vehicles. That's why it's important not to cut in front of them, or to stop suddenly to make a turn with a truck behind you.
- Understand how truck drivers use momentum— When driving in hilly terrain, truck drivers slow down on inclines and gather speed quickly going down the other side. They use the resulting momentum to get them up the next hill. Consequently, allow trucks going down hill to pass you and be patient as they slow down on steeper inclines.
- Be patient— It's no easy feat to maneuver a 22-foot tractor and 48-foot trailer in traffic. If a truck driver is trying to merge onto the highway, leave room or change lanes. Be patient as they go in reverse and understand that it takes time and concentration to back up such a large vehicle.
There are more than 5,000 fatalities annually in the U.S. as a result from accidents with tractor-trailers. We can do our part to reduce that number by simply taking the time to understand the challenges involved in driving a truck that size and exercising a little more patience on the road.