Avoid Being Stranded – 7 Top Vehicle Problems
Everyone dreads the day you have to pull over on the side of the road and call for assistance. In efforts to help avoid a pull over on the side of the road situation it’s best to make sure you have these top seven most common problems solved before you hit the road:
1. Dead Battery: Although the effect of a drained battery often shows up on cold mornings, it’s the high temperatures of summer that usually do the most damage. So a battery can fail at any time. Be sure to have the battery and alternator tested as part of an annual inspection.
2. Flat tire or blowout. Many tire problems result from underinflated tires that overheat, due to low tire pressure. Keep all tires, including the spare, properly inflated to the automaker’s recommended pressure by checking them monthly. Also, inspect the tire sidewalls for bulges or cracks.
3. Fluid Leak. Check the car’s fluid levels regularly, using your owner’s manual as a guide. Look for leaks on the pavement where you park. Black drips are oil; green, orange, or yellow are coolant; and brown or reddish oily drips can be transmission or brake fluid. Any of those can spell trouble and warrant a trip to the mechanic to inspect your car.
4. Worn out wipers or no fluid. Consumer Reports’ auto testers have found that wipers usually degrade in their first six months so it’s best to replace them twice a year. Wipers that have done well in Consumer Reports’ tests include the Valeo 600 Series, RainX Latitude, Anco 32 Series, and Michelin RainForce. Stash spare wiper blades and a gallon of nonfreezing washer fluid in the trunk.
5. Blown fuse. When a fuse goes, it can disable a critical electrical system, such as the headlights, defroster, or antilock brake system, any of which could lead to an accident. What to do. You can’t prevent an electrical problem, but a blown fuse should be the first thing you check if one happens. Consumer Reports recommends carrying a selection of spare fuses and a fuse puller in the car. Fuse kits range from $5 to $20 and can be purchased at auto parts stores. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to make sure the fuses you buy are the correct amp rating and size. If the same fuse blows repeatedly, have a mechanic inspect the system.
6. Broken drive belt. It can disable the car’s water pump or alternator, leading to engine overheating and battery failure. And when it comes to maintenance, belts are easy to forget. How to prevent it. Consumer Reports advises periodic checks under the hood. If a belt has cracks or the rubber is fraying or feels brittle, it should be replaced. If there’s a lot of slack in the belt, the underside is shiny, or you hear squealing while driving, it should be adjusted or repaired. Most drive belts should be replaced after about 60,000 miles.
7. Locked out. Some carmakers provide a valet key or a plastic key for emergency use. If your spare key won’t fit in your purse or wallet, consider a magnetic box for $5 to $10, which you can hide beneath the car or behind the license plate. Often a dealer can cut a door key for much less than a locksmith would charge. Telematics services, such as GM’s OnStar, can unlock a car remotely. [Source: Consumer Reports]
Fortunately with OnStar, which is available in new Cadillac’s, Buick’s and GMC’s, you’re never further than a push of a button for assistance!