Vehicles require all kinds of maintenance to keep them safe to drive for everyone on the roads. While your tires do technically rotate every time you drive, that’s not the kind of rotation needed to keep them wearing evenly and keep your vehicle running smoothly.
Moving your tires from one wheel to another is called rotating your tires. Usually, they’re rotated in a pattern, so that they always move from one spot to the next – usually from back to front, side to side, or diagonally. Depending on whether you have front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or four-wheel drive, your tires may need to be rotated in different patterns.
How Do I Know My Tires Need To Be Rotated?
Usually, tires should be rotated on a regular basis. The more you drive, the more wear down your tires, and the more often they’ll need to be rotated. You may notice a noise coming from the tires when it’s time to have them rotated.
Vehicles with front wheel drive tend to wear faster on the front tires, while rear wheel drive vehicles wear faster in the back. With four wheel drive, tires tend to wear more evenly, but may be different on the right and left sides. If you inspect your tires, you may notice a difference in wear between tires on different parts of the car, or even on different sides of each tire.
Steering can affect the way that tires wear in the front of any vehicle. Shaky steering is often one of the easiest signs that it’s time to rotate the tires. If you notice unusual vibrations in your steering wheel, it’s time to take your vehicle to the repair shop.
Why Rotate My Tires?
More than anything, tire rotation helps ensure that the tires wear evenly. So, why is this important?
Most importantly, rotating your tires and keeping the wear even helps keep your vehicle safe. The tires need a certain amount of tread in order to safely grip the road, especially in rain, snow, ice, or other risky conditions. The tread helps you maintain control of your vehicle. Rotating your tires keeps the wear even so that the tires can grip the road.
Because uneven wear can cause the steering wheel to vibrate, getting a regular tire rotation help keep the steering steady and so you can maintain control of your car.
Rotating your tires extends the life of your tires so that you don’t have to replace them as often. Because they wear more in certain positions, they will wear more evenly, last longer, and save you money on car repairs.
Before you get on the road during a rainy spring or summer, there are several things you can do to ensure that your vehicle is in the best shape possible. Keeping an eye on things like your tires, lights, mirrors, and windows can help prevent a collision before it happens so you can avoid injuries and more costly repairs.
Car Care Tips
Preventing an accident starts with you. Maintaining your vehicle helps keep it safe for you and the other drivers on the road. To keep your car in the best shape for wet weather driving, check the following.
Rainy weather and wet roads require reliable grip on your tires. To inspect them, look at each tire and look for uneven wear, cracks or bulges, anything that may be stuck in your tire, or worn treads.
To test for worn treads, put a penny in the tread of your tire so that Lincoln is upside down. The top of his head should be covered by the tire. If it isn’t, your tread worn more than it should be for safe driving.
Headlights, taillights, and turn signals can grow a layer of grime over time, the bulbs can burn out, or cracks can let water in so they stop working. Lights are important both for you to see while driving, and for other drivers to see your vehicle.
Windshield wipers are one of your best ways to improve visibility in the rain, and windshield wax alone won’t cut it. Make sure your wipers are in good working condition, and if not – replace them.
Once your vehicle is in shape, remember that as the driver, safety is your responsibility on the road. The following can help you stay safe when you’re driving in wet weather.
• When visibility is low, go slow.
• Brake sooner, but brake slower.
• Turn on your headlights and use your turn signals every time.
• Leave extra space between you and the car in front of you.
• If you hydroplane, take your foot off the pedals and don’t turn the wheel.
• Use your defroster if your window fogs over.
• Avoid cruise control so that you have control over acceleration and deceleration.
Tips for When an Accident Happens
Wet weather can lead to more accidents than dry weather. If an accident happens, always stop and work with the other involved drivers to exchange information and make sure everyone is okay. Your local collision repair technician can help you assess the damage to your vehicle and determine the best course of action.
The airbag system is also called the supplementary restraint system (SRS) or the supplemental inflatable restraint (SIR), and acts as a secondary line of defense against injury in a crash. The primary restraint system is the seat belt.
In the event of a car accident airbags are designed to protect the passengers from injury… Unless the aren’t functioning properly, or the passengers have not taken the appropriate precautions.
So, what can you do to ensure that your airbags provide the protection they’re designed to provide?
Sit in the Right Place
Airbags, especially those in the front seat, are built for the average adult. Airbags in the front seat deploy at the wrong height and with more force than children below a certain height and weight can safely withstand.
Children are safest when seated in the back or center of the vehicle in the appropriate child safety seat. These seats help provide extra protection in a collision, especially for infants. In a collision, they can prevent injury cause by an airbag, in addition to injuries caused by the crash.
Adults, even in the front seat, should sit as far back as possible while still having access to the brake, steering wheel, and accelerator. Sitting far from the front of the vehicle means it’s less likely that the airbag will hit with too much force or that the passenger will come into contact with the dash.
Wear a Seatbelt
Airbag safety for kids means staying in the backseat, but airbag safety for any vehicle passenger means wearing a seatbelt. Airbags are the secondary restraint system (which is why some dashboard warning lights say SRS). Seatbelts are much more effective at preventing an injury in a crash.
Listen to Your Warning Lights
Every time the engine starts, the crash sensors, which let the airbags know when to deploy, are checked. If, when the vehicle starts, the airbag warning light remains on, there might be something wrong with the system. It is never safe to drive a vehicle without properly functioning airbags, so if you notice the airbag warning light, always have a professional inspect the vehicle as soon as possible.
After a Collision, Have Airbags Inspected
Airbags that are deployed during a crash are not designed to be reused, and without airbags, the safety of the vehicle is compromised even if everything else is in proper working order. Airbag systems, including the crash sensors, should be inspected and replaced by an authorized repair center following a collision.
Work with Your Repair Technician
When it comes to your safety and the safety of others on the road, there is no room for shortcuts. Always have a professional inspect your airbag system after a crash, or if it is not working right.
Dashboard warning lights are the symbols that light up on the dashboard to signal that there is something malfunctioning with the vehicle. They’re designed to illuminate to show a problem with a specific system, but sometimes it means there is a problem with the warning lights themselves.
Each symbol has a unique meaning, and when a dash light turns on, it’s important to have it checked out so that you can either correct the problem, or be sure that the vehicle is safe.
It’s normal for multiple lights to turn on when the engine first starts, but they should turn off after a few seconds. When lights stay on after the first few seconds, they’re giving you a warning that something is wrong with the car.
What do do When a Dash Light Comes On
A dashboard warning light does not usually mean that the vehicle will stop working immediately, or that it is a danger to drive short distances, like to a collision repair shop. Driving long distances with the warning lights illuminated not advised. The more time passes, the more likely it is that the issue will grow and spread.
Depending on the warning light, you may be able to tell what your vehicle needs. For example, when the engine oil pressure light is on, check your records to see when your last oil change was. Under the hood, check the oil level. It may be time to top off the oil or have it changed.
Is your brake system light illuminated? First, make sure you haven’t left the parking brake on. A vehicle without brakes can be extremely dangerous to people inside and outside the vehicle, so if this isn’t the case, it’s best to have the brakes checked out.
What if Multiple Lights Stay On?
If more than one dash warning light is on, it might just mean that you have problems in more than one system.
After a collision, multiple lights may be on if multiple systems were affected by the crash. If the airbags were deployed during the crash, they will need to be reset, otherwise the dash light will show an error with the airbag system.
However, if all of your lights turn on suddenly, it could indicate an issue with your alternator.
While the purpose of warning lights is to let you know that there is a problem, it is not always immediately clear what the problem is. It’s best to have a qualified collision repair technician analyze the vehicle.
The sooner you have it taken care of, the less likely there is to be extensive damage.
When a vehicle is in a collision, it means that it made contact with another moving object. Sometimes, vehicles make contact with stationary objects, or stationary vehicles are hit by other moving things.
When a vehicle collides with something else, whether it’s another vehicle or another object, the moving object, or both moving objects, have force. For safety reasons, vehicles today are designed to absorb that force in such a way that the passengers inside the vehicle are protected as much as possible. However, that means that even in smaller accidents, the force is directed away from the inside of the vehicle, and its often absorbed by other parts of the vehicle, which can bend and break. Sometimes, that means the frame of the car bends to absorb the force of the collision and protect the occupants.
How Frame Size Affects a Collision Repair
While many pieces of a vehicle can be replaced, like the hood, the door panels, or the bumper, the frame isn’t usually one of them. The frame of most cars is made of steel, or a comparable metal, and it’s considered the skeleton of the vehicle.
Instead of repairing the frame, it’s usually repaired, or bent back into shape.
What happens when the frame is reshaped is that it’s molded to look like it did originally, but it’s not easy to get it exactly right. Measuring the frame allows you and your collision technicians to ensure that the frame is exactly how it should be – the same as it was before the collision.
Imagine taking a brand new piece of aluminum foil, crumpling it up, and then trying to flatten it again. While you can get it pretty with your hands, it won’t have the same look that it did initially without a tool. You really can’t know for sure that it’s exactly how it was when you started unless you measure it before and after crumpling and flattening it.
Why Does Frame Measuring Matter?
There are some pieces of a vehicle that can be replaced if they’ve been damaged enough to need it. However, those pieces are produced to fit the original vehicle, and they’re designed to meet certain standards of safety, efficiency, and quality.
In order to ensure that all parts fit on your vehicle correctly and meet those standards, it’s important that your collision repair shop measures the frame of your vehicle after repairing it. If you have concerns about the frame of your vehicle – don’t hesitate to ask!
After a collision, repainting your vehicle may be the last thing you’re thinking about – especially if the damage was severe. However, it may be the final step in the repair process. Painting is an important part of maintaining the look of your vehicle, but it’s also a barrier that protects the car from rust.
Why Do I Need A Quality Paint Job?
Ultimately, your vehicle can look however you want it to. Time, wear and tear from wind, rain, snow, dirt, dust, sleet, and other natural occurrences, and collisions can all affect the way that a vehicle looks and the quality of its paint job. There are several reasons that you might consider a new paint job, or a touch up on a damaged portion of your vehicle.
Painting your vehicle after a collision can help protect or change it in several ways.
First, a quality paint job protects your vehicle from rust. In addition to not looking as nice, rust is actually a process by which metals, which make up a large portion of your vehicle, break down when they’re exposed to the elements.
A little bit of rust, especially under your vehicle, will likely happen over time. Ultimately, however, allowing your vehicle to rust or failing to maintain the paint job is like constantly scratching the surface of the vehicle and continually breaking it down.
Repainting your vehicle is also a way to make it look like new or to to give it a whole new look. Keeping your vehicle clean is helpful in protecting the paint job and allowing the paint to adequately protect the vehicle.
Considerations for Repainting a Vehicle
If you’re in need of replacement auto parts, check with your collision repair shop to see if they come painted. If they do, it’s important to get the right color so that it matches the rest of your vehicle. If they don’t come painted, you may want to have them painted, especially if they are metal parts. Again, make sure to discuss color matching with an auto painting professional.
Sometimes, whole parts don’t need to be replaced, but they may have been dented and fixed, scratched, or the paint may have chipped. Even the smallest scratch can allow rust to start spreading.
Over the paint, most vehicles have a clear top coat, which helps to protect the paint and make it more difficult to scratch. The top coat also has a UV protective layer that helps prevent sun damage from fading or weakening the paint.
The suspension system of a vehicle is connected to the steering system. Together they work to provide a safe and comfortable ride, and to keep the vehicle in the driver’s control.
In a perfect world, all roads would be perfectly smooth and all cars would have smooth rides. However, in the real world, potholes, pebbles, and unpaved roads can make for a bumpy ride. That’s where a suspension system comes in!
How the Suspension System Works
The suspension system of most vehicles is made of springs, shocks, and struts.
When the vehicle drives over a bump, the springs compress. After the bump, the springs expand. This allows the wheel to go over the bump while keeping the vehicle level. The same works for potholes.
However, in order to keep the springs from continually bouncing until the energy from the bump or pothole is gone, another part takes over. The struts and shock absorbers take the energy from the springs, and allow the vehicle to remain stable. This helps the vehicle keep the tires on the road, which is necessary for accurate steering, braking, and general control of the vehicle.
Signs a Suspension System Needs Repair
The most obvious sign that a suspension system needs to be checked out is a noticeably bouncy or rough ride. If you’re suspicious, try pushing down on the hood of your car. If it bounces more than once or twice, it’s time to get your shocks and struts checked.
Everyday driving can also wear on the suspension system, and hitting bumps or potholes, or driving on unpaved roads at high speeds can damage a suspension system faster. Whether you’ve been in an accident or not, there are some signs of damage to a suspension system.
Other common signs include the following:
• The wear on your tires is uneven or excessive in a short period of time.
• Your shocks or struts are leaking fluid.
• During a turn, your vehicle sways to the side.
• Bumps cause your vehicle to bounce excessively.
• When you hit the brakes, the front of your vehicle dips down.
Repairing Suspension Systems Following a Collision
Especially when the front of a vehicle is damaged during an accident, there is risk of damage to a suspension system. A suspension system is critical to maintaining the safety of your vehicle, and keeping it on the road. If you notice any of the signs listed above, consider speaking with your local collision repair expert.
Original equipment manufacturer auto parts, or OEM parts, are car parts that are made by the vehicle’s original manufacturer. They are the exact same parts, made with the same materials in the same way, usually with the same machines, that the vehicle was made with.
It does not mean that the parts are made by the car company; many auto companies use outside manufacturers to produce their original parts. OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer as the original vehicle, regardless of who that was.
When auto parts are broken or worn out either due to an accident, normal wear and tear, or other damage to a vehicle, original equipment manufacturer parts can be used to replace the old parts. Many auto body shops and insurance companies allow the vehicle owner to choose what kind of parts to use on the vehicle during repair or maintenance, because there are other manufacturers that produce parts of lesser, equal, or superior value.
OEM Auto Parts: The Basics
They might be more expensive. Often, OEM parts are more expensive than either aftermarket or recycled parts.
OEM parts will help your vehicle maintain its value. Because OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer with the same materials as your original vehicle, they are essentially the same exact parts. Therefore, they are the best option to help your vehicle maintain its value for longer.
They maintain safety and other standards of the original vehicle. The original manufacturer helped set and adhered to the original safety standards of the vehicle. Using OEM parts on your vehicle will help maintain the original safety standards. The same applies to things like fuel efficiency, assuming that the vehicle is maintained according to the manufacturer’s requirements.
OEM parts may come with a warranty. In some cases, OEM parts come with a limited warranty, usually, one year. A dealership may also stand by their labor.
You know what you’re getting. If you’re happy with your original vehicle, OEM parts might be right for you. There is usually only one option. You’ll know that the parts you’re using to replace your old ones are going to be the same. They will fit, they will work with your vehicle properly, and they will help maintain the value and standards that your car previously held and met. However, aftermarket parts that may be made on different machinery or with different materials can either be of higher or lower quality in many ways. It takes some research to find out which aftermarket parts are right for you.
Your vehicle’s steering and suspension system plays a huge role in the performance and safety of the vehicle, and it’s one of the biggest ways that a driver maintains control of the vehicle. Usually, when the steering and suspension system is affected, it is due to a collision in the front of the vehicle or to one of the rear wheels.
The steering system is what allows the driver to control where the vehicle goes. It needs to be properly aligned to accurately control the direction of the vehicle. Most steering systems are basically mechanical, but the addition of power steering to most vehicles on the road today can make things a little more complex. Power steering makes the wheels easier to turn, but it also leave more room for things to go wrong in the case of a collision, or more upkeep after normal wear and tear.
The suspension system allows the vehicle to convert the forward and back energy from hitting bumps in the road into vertical energy, which is why the vehicle bounces up and down, especially on bumpy roads. It is made up of coil springs, shock absorbers, and other parts, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.
Maintaining the Steering and Suspension System in Your Vehicle
Like other systems in the average vehicle, day to day use causes some wear and tear on the steering and suspension system. Bumps in the road, driving off-road, allowing a vehicle to sit outdoors without being used, and other things can wear on the system. Power steering, alignments, and eventually, replacing suspension parts may all be part of a vehicle’s regular maintenance.
In the case of a collision, however, you may notice that your vehicle shows signs of damage and the suspension or steering systems may need repaired sooner. If it is not obvious by looking at a vehicle that the steering or suspension are off, these signs could mean that there is more damage to your vehicle than meets the eye.
The steering wheel shakes.
If your steering wheel is shaking either when the vehicle idles, or is going at high speeds, you could have an issue with your brakes, or it could be caused by a problem with your power steering system.
The wheels are difficult to turn.
If the power steering fluid is low or has sprung a leak, your wheels may be much harder to turn.
The wheels squeal when you turn.
This is another sign that your power steering fluid may be low.
Your Steering wheel is not aligned.
If your steering wheel is straight and your vehicle drives to one side or the other, you may need an alignment.
If your vehicle is bouncing up and down more than normal on the same quality roads, there could be an issue with your suspension system.
Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) in your Vehicle
The supplemental restraint system, or SRS, in your vehicle does exactly what its name implies: it supplements the restraint, or seatbelt, system. In the case of a collision, the primary function of the supplemental restraint system is to deploy airbags, although modern systems may initiate other actions, like reclining the driver and passenger seatbacks into a safer position or releasing curtains to protect occupants from broken glass when windows shatter.
When a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object, the airbag sensor signals the airbag to open. At the very least, a vehicle has one airbag in front of the driver and one for the passenger, but many vehicles have additional side airbags or rear airbags to further protect the vehicle’s occupants.
Your SRS Warning Light
On the dashboard, your vehicle has warning lights that are tested every time the vehicle starts. When a light remains on after the first 10 seconds or so when the vehicle is started, it’s a sign that there is an error with a system in your vehicle. The SRS system light will either say “SRS” or it will be an image of a person wearing a seatbelt with an airbag expanded in front of them.
If your light remains on and there is an error with the system, your airbags may not deploy in the case of a collision and you should have your vehicle examined as soon as possible. In some cases, if your insurance company can determine that there was an error in the vehicle that kept the system from functioning properly and the vehicle owner failed to have it taken care of, the insurance company may not pay for medical bills that result from a crash.
SRS Testing and Functionality Following a Collision
If your vehicle has been in a collision, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your SRS is functioning properly.
1. Check whether the airbags or any other safety features have been activated. This can include airbags, seat belt retractors, curtains, etc.
2. If you can, start the vehicle. Check for the SRS light. It should illuminate for a few seconds and then turn off. If it does not illuminate or if it remains on, your system may not be working properly.
3. Examine your seat belts. Pull every seat belt out all the way and look for signs of wear, like tears or strange sounds.
4. Buckle the seatbelts and ensure that all buckles still work.
5. If your vehicle has a passenger weight sensor, sit in the passenger seat to test whether it is functioning.
6. If you are unsure about any of these steps, notice any wear or malfunctioning parts, or there is a problem with your SRS, take your vehicle to a collision repair shop.