People take driving too lightly. We get so used to it that we forget we’re operating dangerous machines that could kill or main another person. It only takes a brief lapse of focus. Just ask one of the 391,000 people who got injured in a wreck involving a distracted driver in 2015. They know! These harsh truths will help you be a better driver, passenger, and vehicle owner.

1. Distracted driving is selfish.

“Whoa. That was harsh! Audra means serious business in this blog, huh?”

Yes, I do! Is there anything less selfish than putting other people’s lives at risk, because you had to answer that text right this second?

Do you think it’s considerate of other drivers to multitask in the car (even though evidence proves this increases your risk of having a traffic accident)?

It’s helpful to think about the potential ramifications of distracted driving… not just for you, but other drivers. Your inattention could get somebody hurt. Please don’t risk it!

2. Putting off a repair is short-sighted.

Cars are incredible machines. They only require a tiny fraction of the maintenance they used to need. But that doesn’t mean you get to neglect the condition of your car.

Do you even have a clue what your car needs? If not, dig out your owner’s manual and skip to the end. You will see a recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

This isn’t a random or arbitrary list. The maintenance schedule only includes repairs that your car needs to remain in great shape. This advice comes from the people who made your car… and if anyone knows how to take care of it, surely they do!

Even if you follow all of those guidelines, your car will need an emergency repair sometimes. There’s no way to avoid it. Cars are like any other machine: sometimes they malfunction. Accept this reality and brace yourself for it by establishing an emergency fund.

Putting off a repair will cause more harm than good. The longer you let a problem go unintended, the worse it will get. Something as simple as low brake fluid could turn into a rear-end collision and trip to the body shop unless you act fast. It’s seriously not worth the risk (I assure you!).

3. There’s no way to control everything.

Even the best drivers find themselves in bad situations.

You could run into a nail and get a flat tire. You could breakdown on your trip to the beach. Your engine could overheat on the hottest day of the year.

It’s not healthy to dwell on such things – why stress yourself out? – but you should be ready for anything. Ask yourself: “What would be the best way to respond in these situations?”

Not sure? I’ll help. It’s not smart to change a flat tire yourself. If the jack isn’t set up just right, the car might fall on top of you. Instead, call AAA or a tow truck and get to an auto shop.

No two car breakdowns are exactly alike. In this blog, I provide advice for different situations. That said, it always helps to have a car emergency kit. Make sure it contains jumper cables!

Overheating is typically due to low coolant/antifreeze. This is why you should keep an extra bottle in your trunk. Fill it back up and visit an auto shop (because you might have a leak).

These are just a few examples of potential hazards on the road. Be mindful of the emergency situations you might run into. If any of them ever happen, you’ll be SO relieved to have a plan!

4. You can’t expect mechanics to be mind-readers.

Illness works the same way for cars and people. “Persistent cough” isn’t a medical diagnosis. It’s a symptom that could be caused by several different issues.

Maybe you have asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, a sinus infection, or (insert possibility here). There’s no way for a doctor to know until they do some diagnostic tests.

The same fact is true for auto mechanics. We’re not psychics. You can’t call an auto shop and say: “Hey! My car won’t stop overheating. How much would it cost to fix that?”

I’m not a fan of giving repair price quotes on the phone or online, because it’s impossible to know exactly what is causing a automobile problem until we inspect the vehicle.

Overheating engines are a great example. There’s not one isolated cause of overheating. Maybe there’s a coolant leak. A thermostat might have went bad. A hose could have burst.

Regardless of the specific cause, I can’t provide an accurate quote until I know what’s wrong. Bear that in mind when you call an auto shop and they refuse to give a quote. They’re not being mean. They’re trying to do a good job and protect you from disappointment.

5. Some auto shops don’t advertise essential services.

Don’t buy repairs and maintenance services based on what’s for sale in newspaper ads.

A lot of auto shops advertise familiar services like oil changes and “tune ups.” This is easier than educating drivers about all the other stuff that requires attention.

Fortunately, most auto shops provide a courtesy safety inspection to every car they service, which should catch most problems. Still, it’s good to be proactive and preventive.

Get familiar with the recommended maintenance schedule inside of your owner’s manual. Keep all of receipts and warranties related to auto repair. Every now and then, confirm you’re on track with the recommended maintenance. If you’re not, fix that ASAP!

6. Taking poor care of your car is inconsiderate.

Having an unsafe car doesn’t only affect you. It affects your spouse, children, friends, and/or anyone else in your passenger seat.

If you’ve been putting off an urgent repair (and you drive people around on a regular basis), you’re not respecting their safety or well-being.

7. Saving money later requires spending money now.

The catalytic converter is an important emissions device in your car. Basically, it turns toxic fumes into less harmful substances.

You should never need a catalytic converter repair. If something is wrong, there will be warning signs including: check engine light, oxygen sensor malfunction, and poor gas mileage.

Drivers don’t always go to the auto shop as soon as they notice a check engine light. “Eh, I don’t notice anything amiss, so I’ll do this in a few days/weeks/months.” What a terrible idea!

It costs $1,000+ to replace a catalytic converter. This won’t become necessary unless you neglect your oxygen sensor until it’s too late. (These two parts work together in concert.)

Oxygen sensors only cost $200 to replace. So by ignoring your check engine light, you could risk multiplying the cost of your repair by 10x. Prevention always pays off. Act fast!

Share this article with your friends so they can be a better driver and vehicle owner like you.

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