A painless resolution

Why not make a New Year’s resolution that’s beneficial and painless to keep? Relax with a good book, a best seller, your owner’s manual! Too many drivers buy vehicles then fail to “read and follow label directions”. Both you and your vehicle will be better off if you understand what constitutes proper usage and maintenance.

Throw away those how-to-make-thousands books and save thousands over the lifespan of your car. Following manufacturer’s instructions for use and care can add tens of thousands of safer miles to the usable life of your vehicle. Currently, cars and trucks offer features that existed only in science fiction a mere twenty years ago, but to take advantage of them you must acquire a firm grasp of proper usage.

Longevity can only be assured through proper preventive maintenance, but that requires knowing what, when, and how, plus what products meet specifications. Here’s one. If you own any of several newer vehicles and haven’t read your owner’s manual you may not know that it requires a different oil from your old vehicle. 5 W 20! Fail to read the manual and install the old standby 5 W 30 oil instead of the new 5 W 20 and you could compromise both durability and warranty. Using the wrong oil nearly always shortens engine life and often voids engine warranty.

You may also be risking life and limb by not reading the manual. Fail to buckle your seatbelts on some vehicles and the air bags won’t work, ouch! Allowing yourself to be exposed to unnecessary danger is bad but what about your passengers? Without reading the manual you wouldn’t know that your highline sport utility might be equipped with a feature in the passenger’s seat that de-activates the air bag when a special child safety-seat is properly used. Endangering the life of a child because you failed to spend an hour reading and practicing could haunt you the rest of your life.

These are just two of many potential pitfalls you would avoid by studying the manual. But don’t stop there; to really understand the features you have to actually use them. Practice the proper operation of the various controls and functions on your vehicle. You’ll become familiar with their usage and what reactions to expect. ABS brakes are a classic case. Find a safe spot to perform panic stops so you know what to expect during an ABS engaged stop. Some make noise, some vibrate, some simply feel strange, and all allow you to steer during that crucial stop which may avoid a serious accident. Never before have drivers been able to steer around objects during a panic stop.

Without study and practice you won’t be able to take full advantage of your vehicle’s safety and performance features. Proper usage may involve strange and unnatural operations and produce startling reactions from the vehicle. Far too many drivers suffer serious injury because they just don’t know. An owner’s manual can help double or triple your vehicle’s life. It can explain features and driving requirements that could save your life and the lives of your passengers. Isn’t an hour or two of your time a small price to pay for such benefits?

© Copyright 1/6/2015 Pat Goss all rights reserved

1 comment

Charlie Frantz said:

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January 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

Well-written, important and on-point article. It shocked me how many things I did not know about my car until I read the manual. Great advice as always. Thanks so much Pat and Happy New Year to you.

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