Maintaining a Road-Ready Vehicle
Maintaining a dependable vehicle can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you safely motoring on Florida’s roadways. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) encourages consumers to perform regular maintenance to ensure their vehicles are road-ready.
Vehicle maintenance tips:
To ensure the safety of everyone on the road, regularly check for vehicle recalls, including tires, and schedule any necessary repairs. To check for recalls on your vehicle, visit nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter the 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN) found on the driver side of your vehicle’s dashboard or on your vehicle registration.
Tires are your vehicles first line of defense on the road and should be checked monthly for damage, tread wear and proper inflation. Never drive on tires over six years old. Don’t forget to check your spare tire and ensure it is in good condition and ready for use. Visit the FLHSMV Tire Safety page for more information on properly maintaining your tires.
Ensuring that your vehicle’s tires are properly balanced and aligned will ensure that your vehicle’s tires wear evenly and last longer. Have your vehicle’s alignment checked annually or at the first sign of improper handling or uneven tire wear. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles or as recommended by the tire manufacturer. Balance tires when they are rotated to protect shock absorbers and struts from wear.
Your vehicle’s braking system is critical to keeping you and others safe on the road. Reliable brakes ensure vehicle control and safe operation in all types of traffic situations and road conditions. If you feel your vehicle begin to pull to one side, shake or make noise when you brake, immediately have your brakes repaired. The longer brakes are left unrepaired, the more likely rotors and drums will need to be replaced, resulting in a much more expensive repair.
Sun damage and age can cause headlights to yellow and become cloudy. Cloudy headlights can limit your ability to see and be seen on the road. If you have an older vehicle, consider changing the headlight casing or use restorative cleaners to improve visibility.
Properly functioning windshield wipers play a major role in safe driving in inclement weather. Hot, sunny climates like Florida can cause windshield wipers to deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement. Periodically check windshield wipers and replace as necessary. Noisy or streaky wipers indicate it’s past time for replacement.
Being stranded on the road is stressful! Periodically check your vehicle’s battery charge and connections to avoid being stuck with a dead battery. Vehicles driven for short periods of time with frequent on/off engine cycles will lose their battery charge faster, as will vehicles that are not driven for an extended time. Heat also plays a factor in draining a battery. Vehicle batteries in hot climates typically last about three years. If you have an older battery, it may be time to consider replacing it.
Specially formulated fluids, including motor oil, transmission fluid and coolant, protect your vehicle’s components and keep it running smoothly. Florida’s hot climate can cause these fluids to break down more rapidly. Check fluid levels monthly, especially in summer months, and refill or replace as necessary.
Perform regularly scheduled maintenance to ensure your vehicle is dependable and keeps you safe on the road. Refer to your vehicle’s owner manual for specific manufacturer recommendations on what to check and when. Stranded motorists on Florida highways can call *FHP (*347) for assistance.
Dave Kerner, Executive Director