Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? – George Carlin
The final lesson to learn about driving is that your education is endless. Though most people don’t care to learn everything, the basics are essential considering we are all sharing the road and need to keep each other safe, as well as ourselves, while driving. Beyond safety, the cost of repairs on vehicles can be staggering, so to protect your wallet as well, there are a few points to be consider when you’re driving.
One of those being: When is it safe to drive knowing my car has problems?
To help answer this question, I’ve devised this Drivers Dastardly List of Don’ts, a brief list of the most important problems to be concerned with whether you are safe to drive knowing you have car problems. Each problem is broken down under its respective category for tires, engine, and the vehicles exterior. Hopefully this will help a few people to avoid breaking the bank when they couldn’t brake their car. Poor pun intended.
Don’t drive on worn out tires. If the tire is obviously worn, enough so that you are concerned, change the tire, have them replaced, or take the bus. The chance of a blowout on the road is high and can cause you to lose control, which has limitless problems associated with that.
Don’t drive for too long on your spare tire. It’s called a spare for a reason; it’s not your primary tire. Spare tires do not have the longevity of other tires and driving on them for extended periods of time is dangerous, as they simply don’t last. Beyond that, if your spare goes out, what will you do next time?
Don’t drive on a flat tire. Some people think they can drive the extra mile to the gas station to refill their tire, or they can make it to the repair shop. This is usually thought until the flat tire ruptures making repair on the flat tire impossible, and possibly causing damage to their rim. If you have a flat, put the spare on. If you don’t have a spare, call a tow truck and remember why they are called spares.
Don’t drive when your tires are not aligned. Driving when your car tires aren’t aligned increases the wear and tear on your tires reducing their lifespan. Over a period of time, axles can become bent or damaged as repeated turning causes puts them under stress. And in extreme cases, it can even cause cars to roll over if both tires on one side are leaning in. If you believe your vehicles alignment is off, get it checked. If you believe it is bad, get it fixed.
Don’t drive with bad brakes pads. The only thing keeping your multi ton, high speed, metal machine from being out of control are your brakes. You can’t skid stop, you don’t want to crash into something to slow down, and as such your brakes are your only friend. If you hear or feel any grinding, notice reduced responsiveness, or see smoke, you’ll want to get your brake pads checked out and replaced. Even if a brake failure doesn’t cause an accident, driving on bad brake pads can cause tremendous damage to your disk/drum brake.
Don’t Run You’re A/C All The Time. We all need a little reprieve from the heat every now and again, and our vehicles are the same. When it’s extremely hot, your vehicle has to work overtime to provide A/C. You’ll notice this as there will be decreased engine power which may make your vehicle seem sluggish. This means you shouldn’t be blasting the A/C all day. Driving uphill when it’s hot out causes even more problems, because your vehicle is fighting the heat as well as the incline. Give your car a rest when it’s needed, and it will ensure you get A/C most of the time while still getting you to your destination. By letting your car heat up too much, your forcing it to run through coolant, and can cause damage to various parts once your engine gets to a certain heat level.
Don’t drive if you believe you’re having transmission problems. Many engine problems can exist which will automatically make your vehicle inoperable. Belts can brake, hoses become worn, batteries die or fail to recharge. The beauty with most of these is mainly you can’t cause further damage because you can’t do anything at all. But when it comes to transmissions, the smallest problems when left unattended can cause the absolute biggest headaches.
Signs your transmission is in trouble include all the too vague smoke and smell of something burning. More importantly are the sounds and feel when your vehicle is in motion and particularly when shifting gears. If you feel shutters or shakes, notice gears slipping, hear grinding, or anything in between, it’s safe to say the vehicle might make it to your destination, and perhaps even a few thereafter. But those problems will only grow the longer a diagnosis is postponed. It is beyond highly recommended that if you think something is wrong with your transmission to get it checked. The cost of waiting can be in the thousands, at times, even more than the vehicle is worth.
Don’t drive with missing or broken wipers. Vision is the most important part of driving, and that being particularly hard when it’s raining or snowing, you should always have functioning windshield wipers. One missing wiper means 50% of your vision is obstructed. And no doubt have we all struggled with wipers that need to be replaced, smearing rather than clearing. And using broken or missing wipers quickly ruins your windshield with scratches. Causing what would have been a $30 repair, into a $500 replacement.
Don’t drive without functioning lights. Again your vision is paramount, but so is allowing other people to see you. Brake lights, turn signals, and headlights are all equally important. Headlights obviously allow you to see what you are doing. But everything else is to alert other drivers of your actions. When you brake suddenly, or are stopped up ahead, many times you can’t notice in time based on judging distances and your perspective. You have to be told the cars ahead of you are slowing down or stopped. This is especially true when visibility is reduced during storms or at night.
Don’t drive with body damage. Now of course this is a matter of judgement. If you have a small ding or dent, no big problem. But if you have anything loosely connected, and seems as though it could potentially disconnect from your vehicle, do not drive. The chance of it falling off while you are moving is far to high of a risk and other drivers would be put into harms way. In most states, both front and rear bumpers are required. But many other parts are not. If some unnecessary features can be removed, do that and continue driving. Otherwise just get it repaired.
Guest Author: Damien S. Wilhelmi – If you enjoyed this piece, you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. When I’m not writing about cars for an auto AC service center, I’m generally out on the road, enjoying the thrill of the drive.