* Rain is a common spring driving hazard. While most people think of ice or snow when cautioned about slippery roads, the truth is wet roads can be just as slick. Tires can hydroplane on a layer of water, losing contact with the road and causing the vehicle to skid. Rain lifts oil and other slippery fluids, dripped by passing autos, creating a slick layer on the blacktop. Flooded roads can flood out engines. Slow down on wet roads. Consider buying a vehicle with features like all wheel drive and electronic stability control.
* Start out with a safe car. Studies show that all wheel drive and electronic stability control significantly reduce the risk of being involved in a crash. Automakers are beginning to offer the technologies on more models. Subaru offers both as standard equipment on models like its B9 Tribeca that has earned the top safety ratings from industry watchdogs such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.safecar.gov) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org).
* Replace worn tires. Your tires are what keep the car on the road. Worn out treads provide less traction and greater chance to slide. Likewise, make sure tires are inflated properly according to your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
* Spring showers bring May flowers, but let this be a reminder to also check and replace worn wiper blades. Poorly maintained windshield wipers can hamper visibility in poor weather. After a long winter of salt and other road residue on the windows, wiper effectiveness is greatly enhanced by cleaning the glass with a strong glass cleaner that can remove the oily film. And don't forget the inside of the glass. Removing the film on the inside can help the defroster clear faster and reduce moisture build-up.
As part of its National Car Care month in April, the Car Care Council recommends checking tire treads and windshield wiper quality in preparation for spring driving conditions.
“In our research of vehicles brought in for their April check-up, close to one-fifth of vehicles (17 percent) had front windshield wiper failures and 12 percent of vehicles needed service on their rear wipers and/or washers,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.
* Spring rain can also dampen visibility so it is important to check all vehicle lighting including headlights, taillights, back-up lights, turn signals, parking lights and break lights. These lights are important not only because they help you to see, but also serve as a way to help you communicate clearly with other motorists.
* Take advantage of safety resources. Throughout National Car Care month, many dealerships offer free safety screenings to motorists who drive the brand of car sold at the dealership. For example, starting in April and continuing through spring, participating Subaru dealers will conduct free professional diagnostics on all Subaru models. The inspection includes a check up of all major operating systems and drivers receive a written report of the vehicle’s condition. Visit www.subaru.com to find a dealer in your area.