Keep Your Car in Top Shape


America has a devoted love affair with its cars.  There’s no denying it.  How do we love them?  We can count the ways:

  1. Three trillion miles traveled in 2010
  2. That’s 6.5 million trips to the moon . . . and back
  3. Transporting Americans uses a whopping 72% of our annual oil supply


When we rack up numbers like that, it’s obvious cars are important to us and that’s all the more reason to keep your car in top shape for safety reasons as well as economy of operation.  Keeping it in good shape increases the life of the vehicle, too.

Your auto mechanic will rack up your car when it gets to his shop but there’s a lot you as the driver and owner of the vehicle can do to keep things safe and running at full speed between trips to the shop.  Master these maintenance tips to make sure you see more of your car than your mechanic does.


Maintenance Tips

There aren’t as many backyard mechanics as there used to be, partly because our vehicles have become so computerized it takes sophisticated electronic diagnostic equipment to identify the source of many problems.  Sure, there are still lots of mechanical parts and processes that someone with the mind of a mechanic can tend to but auto repairs should never be taken lightly.  A loose screw, missing lug nut, or cap to a fluid reservoir that’s not closed tightly can spell disaster.  Safety becomes compromised and expensive repairs are almost always sure to follow.

Don’t make a grease monkey out of yourself.  Do what you confidently can and leave the rest to the pros.  These maintenance tips, checklists, and links to important information for keeping your car clean, safe, and purring like a kitten will help you identify what you can do effectively and when to get ‘er to the shop.

Auto Products:  Household Products Database (with links by product to health effects data) / US Department of Health & Human Services

Auto Warranties & Routine Maintenance / Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

Car Maintenance / US Environmental Protection Agency

Car Maintenance Checklist for Winter Weather (pdf) / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Car Upholstery Cleaning Guides to Maintain Your Car Interior Cleanliness

Fix That Leak:  Oil and Water Don’t Mix / Car Maintenance Tips / State of Washington Department of Ecology

How to Find Your Way Under the Hood & Around the Car

How to Maintain a Car and Save Money at the Same Time!

Keeping Your Car in Shape / US Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Reducing Your Environmental Footprint:  Information on Purchasing a Vehicle, Driving, and Maintenance Tips / Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Safety Tip - Tire Safety / Oregon State Police

Steps to a “Greener” Car

Take Simple Steps to Maintain Your Car’s Body

Tips:  Transportation /

Tire Maintenance and Safety:  Be Tire Smart, Play Your P.A.R.T. / Rubber Manufacturers Association

Tire Safety:  Benefits of temperature & Pressure Monitoring / Drive to Survive

What to Do If You Have a Blowout on the Highway (pdf) / National Safety Council


Recall Notices and Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)

Sometimes we get a little heads-up from the government when it’s time to get the car to the shop.  Recall notices and technical service bulletins, also called TSBs for short, are issued by government agencies that regulate safety on the nation’s roads and by auto manufacturers that know their good reputation rides on your safety.

These recalls and TSBs aren’t often mandatory but it’s a good idea to take heed of them when they’re issued.  They’re usually the result of auto mechanic and consumer concerns that have been reported to manufacturers or regulatory entities.  When many people seem to be having the same problem with the same make and model vehicle, in-depth investigation is conducted to identify any faulty parts or processes that jeopardize the operation and safety of the vehicle.

When a design flaw or factory defect is identified as the source of the problem, an alert is sent to the owners of all vehicles affected by the problem and to auto repair shops so the service personnel there will know what to be on the look-out for.

One way to ensure you always get recalls, TSBs, and other safety alerts is by making sure every vehicle you drive is registered with its manufacturer and that the auto company that produced it has your current address on file.

Compare 2013 Technical Service Bulletins

Do Vehicle Recalls Reduce the Number of Accidents?:  The Case of the US Car Market (pdf) / State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook

Newspaper Coverage of Automotive Safety Recalls (pdf) / East Carolina University

A Primer on Automotive Safety Recalls (pdf) / University of Michigan

Quality on the Line:  The Fallout from Toyota’s Recall / Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Safety Complaints:  Report Your Safety Complaint /

Tips for Keeping Up with Vehicle Recalls / Motorist Assurance Program

Vehicle Recalls:  Cars and Light Trucks / US Environmental Protection Agency

Vehicle Repair Resources / Texas Department of Public Safety

Your Online Resource for Recalls /

It takes a team to keep your car in top shape - you, your favorite auto mechanic, your vehicle’s manufacturer, and the people employed to keep America’s 2,734,102 miles of paved roads and its 1,324,245 miles of unpaved roads safe so you can cruise like a king.  You gotta love that!

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Written By: Chris Glardon