Most of us take car ownership for granted. The danger is the belief that, day in day out a car will start, run and proceed as usual, it will continue doing so without any further input from the owner. Taking a car for granted is a recipe for disaster.
Windscreen wipers. If someone thinks that their eyes need attention, they go to the optician, yet it surprising how many people peer through smeared glass and grow to accept blurry driving vision as a matter of course. In car terms, wipers cost a negligible amount and it pays to change them regularly. There’s no excuse.
Fuel delivery. A turn of the key and the car starts, but what if it doesn’t? What if it splutters and stalls? Fuel has to be delivered to the hot end of the car and it comes through filters and pipes. Filters get blocked and pipes can fray or be damaged and this in turn could cause dangerous leaks. This isn’t routine but it something a garage should be checking at service. Are they?
The Timing Belt. When the engine is on, it is in constant, timed motion, making the connection between the crankshaft and the camshaft and many drivers are unaware of its very existence. They are then confounded when the car comes to a grinding and lively halt when the belt breaks. Most cars will need this changed once. Long stayers may need a couple. It’s all in the service manual and a garage should change this at a specific interval. It isn’t an especially cheap job and is easily forgotten. The trick is not to.
Suspension and steering. This is the gear that, along with the wheels, keeps the car off the ground and actively going around corners. Worn steering can be felt by way of a certain vagueness and, if the car corners like a cross-channel ferry, it may well be the ball-joints or shock absorbers that need attention. Owners need to be vigilant about how a car handles.
Oils and lubricants. Shakespeare said “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Had he been amongst us today might he have said “If you fail to lubricate your car, will it not seize up?” This is what will happen if the engine runs short of oil and if the brake fluid runs out people may die. That’s the harsh reality. The fluids and liquids in a car are its lifeblood. Checking them is usually a simple DIY operation and rectifying any issues doesn’t come with any major financial penalties. A seized engine does.
These are the things that car owners need to be thinking about as they drive about their business. We may take car ownership for granted but treat it badly and, like a neglected spouse, a car may extract a terrible and costly revenge.