Results of vehicle inspections held at community car care events across the country during Car Care Months in April and October 2011 reveal that 84 percent of vehicles need service or parts, the highest percentage in five years, according to the Car Care Council. The unsatisfactory condition of vehicles reflects the current economic climate and reinforces the continued need for consumer education about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.
"During an uncertain economy, some motorists think they will save money by putting off needed vehicle maintenance," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "What they don't realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more in the long run.These results demonstrate the importance of consumer education as the lack of proper vehicle maintenance can greatly impact highway safety, air quality, cost operation, and vehicle performance and dependability."
An analysis of vehicle inspection forms, submitted by volunteers who conducted a record number of car care events in 2011, found the top problem areas to be engine oil and fluids, air filters, battery cables, lights, belts and hoses. Nearly one out of 10 vehicles had the check engine light on and new air filters were needed in 19 percent of the vehicles. At least one belt was reported as unsatisfactory in 20 percent of the vehicles inspected, and 15 percent required at least one new hose. Battery cables, clamps and terminals needed maintenance in 17 percent of the vehicles inspected, while 10 percent of the batteries were not properly held down.
When checking lubricants and fluids, the three top failure rates were: low or dirty motor oil at 28 percent; low, leaky or dirty coolant at 24 percent; and inadequate washer fluid levels at 23 percent. Power steering, transmission and brake fluids were also checked and had failure rates of 18 percent and below.
Approximately 14 percent of vehicles had front windshield wiper failures and three percent needed service to rear wipers. Up to 16 percent of vehicles needed lights replaced, including headlights, brake lights and license plate lights. Improperly inflated tires were found on eight percent of the cars and 11 percent had worn tread and were in need of replacement.
Many of the businesses and groups planning inspection events for National Car Care Month in April have posted them on the new event finder on the council's website. For more information on finding or hosting a local event, visit www.carcare.org.