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7. Vehicle Components

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Safety Equipment - Safe Use

Economical & Safe Use of the Automobile

There are several things you can do to maximize the economic operation of your motor vehicle.

First, you should avoid making fast starts and stops, and cornering too fast. They are not only unsafe, but increase the cost of operating and maintaining your vehicle by wasting fuel and wearing out tires and brakes.

The second thing you can do to save money is to drive slower. Faster driving requires more fuel to get you the same distance. Obey speed limits and you will save fuel and reduce the risk to others.

Another thing you can do is anticipate when you will need to stop. Quick braking excessively wears your brakes and tires. Look ahead while you are driving so you can anticipate when you will need to stop and do so smoothly and gently.

Periodic or preventative maintenance of your vehicle will also lower your long-term operation costs. Periodic tune ups reduce fuel consumption by making your vehicle run more efficiently. The money you spend on periodic maintenance can also save you large expenses due to major engine failure and breakdown.

The cost of owning and operating a vehicle is the sum of those costs directly related to the number of miles driven (gasoline, replacing tires and other components that wear out with use, and oil changes), and costs that are largely the same regardless of how little you actually drive your car (insurance, registration, depreciation, and maintenance that must be performed regardless of miles driven).

Depreciation is a significant cost in owning a vehicle. Depreciation is the amount you have paid for the privilege of owning and driving the vehicle in addition to what you have paid for gas, maintenance, insurance, and so on. As your car accumulates more miles or gets older (regardless of how many miles it has been driven), it is worth less when you sell it.

Depreciation is particularly high during the period immediately after buying a new car, and the yearly depreciation cost decreases as the car gets older. If you drive your car very little, gas mileage, and maintenance may not be a significant consideration, but depreciation, insurance, and registration will be. If you drive your car a lot, gas mileage and day-to-day repairs will be significant cost considerations. While it is difficult to estimate the costs of owning and operating a vehicle precisely, you should consider all of these types of costs when making a decision about what type of vehicle to purchase.

In selecting a vehicle you must consider how you will use it in your work, recreation, the number and age of passengers to be transported, and the need for dependability. It is important to consider all the costs of owning and operating a vehicle, not just the price you are paying, when determining whether you can afford the car.

If you buy a new rather than used car, your costs for financing, depreciation, registration, and insurance will be higher, but your maintenance costs will probably be lower, the dependability of the vehicle will probably be better, and the crash worthiness and fuel efficiency may be better.

It is wise to have a used vehicle inspected for mechanical condition prior to purchase.

When purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, the dealer submits fees, use tax, and other documents to register the vehicle with the DMV. When purchasing from a private party, the seller provides a bill of sale, smog certification, and an endorsed Certificate of Title, and submits a Notice of Release of Liability to the DMV within 5 days. The buyer pays the use tax and is responsible for registering vehicle with the DMV within 10 days.

If you finance a car, the interest you pay on the money you have borrowed may be significant. You may be required to pay for insurance that you would not have otherwise chosen, and if you fail to make payments, the car can be repossessed and your credit history damaged.

If a minor is allowed to drive your vehicle, it may significantly increase the insurance premiums. Your insurance may not be sufficient to pay for the damages for which you are liable if the minor causes an accident.

There are some common sense rules you can follow which will generally steer you clear of dangerous situations when operating a motor vehicle. The following tips are presented to help insure your personal safety while driving.

Always lock your car doors while driving, and roll windows up far enough to keep anyone from reaching inside.

At stop signs and lights keep the car in gear and stay alert.

Travel well-lighted, busy streets. You can spare those extra minutes it may take to avoid an unsafe area.

Keep your purse and other valuables out of sight, even when you are driving in your locked car.

Park in safe, well-lighted areas near your destination. Always lock your car, even for a short absence. And before unlocking your car, quickly check to make sure no one is hiding on your seats or floors, front and back.

Never pick up a hitchhiker. Even the most harmless-looking stranger can be dangerous. Don't find out.

When you arrive home, leave your headlights on until you have the car in the garage and the house door unlocked. If you can, have a remote control garage door opener installed; it will allow you to remain in your locked car until you're inside your locked garage.

Check the daily routes you travel and pick out safe spots-24 hour gas stations, convenience stores, and police and fire stations. If trouble should arise, drive straight to one of these locations.

Here are some facts about vehicle theft:

  • every 33 seconds a car is stolen
  • more than a million cars are stolen a year
  • 40% have keys in the ignition
  • most are stolen by young opportunists
  • 80% are unlocked
  • If you take the following protective measures, you may deter the theft of your vehicle. Generally, thieves will have to look far for an easier target.

    To help avoid having your vehicle stolen:

  • always lock all doors
  • roll your windows up tight
  • install tapered interior door lock buttons
  • park in heavily traveled areas, always locked
  • don't leave any valuables in sight
  • don't hide spare keys-they can be found
  • don't think it can't happen to you; act before, not after the crime
  • Engrave an identifying number on a hidden place on the car and on any valuable components to help the police identify recovered property.

    Lesson Summary


    Lesson 7 Quiz

    You will now answer 5 questions to test what you learned during this lesson. You must answer all questions correctly to receive completion credit for this lesson. You may answer the questions as many times as necessary to get them right.

    You should review the lesson material if you don't do well on the quiz.

    1. Disc brakes work by:


    2. The minimum tread thickness for passenger car tires is:


    3. The ALTERNATOR:


    4. The oil warning light means that:


    5. The engine in your car is sometimes called:



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