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The ABCs of car care for new drivers

A -- Always follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan. B -- Be sure to have your car inspected when you suspect there is a problem. C -- Correct the problem to help avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down away f...

A -- Always follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan.

B -- Be sure to have your car inspected when you suspect there is a problem.

C -- Correct the problem to help avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down away from home.

"Most young people can't wait to drive, but their car care education should begin well before their parents hand over the keys," says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Understanding the basics of car care before taking the wheel will help keep new drivers safer on the road."

The Car Care Council recommends that new drivers keep a free copy of its popular Car Care Guide in the glove box and learn about 10 car care inspection procedures that are an important part of any preventative vehicle maintenance plan:

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• Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze.

• Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.

• Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.

• Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.

• Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.

• Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.

• Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.

• Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.

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• Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

Check the wipers and lighting so you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

To request a free copy of the Car Care Council's 60-page Car Care Guide or to view the electronic version in English or Spanish, visit www.carcare.org/car-care-guide .

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council's Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org .

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