Preventive maintenance typically implies looking under the vehicle’s hood; often, though, it’s the chassis underneath the vehicle that’s overlooked.
According to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), underperformed vehicle maintenance in the American automotive aftermarket industry is more than $50 billion annually. Brakes, shocks and struts, and chassis components all located under the vehicle are among the most neglected parts and, if not properly maintained, can contribute to wheel alignment problems.
And, considering the cost of tires and fuel today, proper wheel alignment can be a real money saver as well as a safety precaution. That’s why ACDelco, a global leader in automotive replacement parts and services, has teamed up with Scot Manna, owner of MB Automotive in Des Plaines, IL, and winner of ACDelco’s 2006 Technician of the Millennium IV competition, to discuss why owners shouldn’t overlook their vehicles’ chassis and alignment.
Q: Do vehicle owners tend to neglect the warning signs of chassis wear more than other more apparent problems, like worn brakes or engine performance?
A. Yes. Chassis parts are out of sight and out of mind to most vehicle owners. Sometimes it’s not until a noise is unusual that it tends to get the motorist’s attention and motivate him/her to have the vehicle checked. But noises should not be overlooked because bigger trouble can follow.
Q: Much is written about the importance of a vehicle being properly aligned. Why is it that significant?
A. Proper wheel alignment reduces tire wear and helps provide improved fuel economy and vehicle control and handling. Most drivers think about wheel alignment only if their car pulls to one side while driving, but severe tire wear can result from improper wheel alignment and yet the vehicle can still drive straight. The only way to know if the alignment is correct is to have it checked.
Q: How often should a vehicle owner have his car or truck checked for excessive chassis wear?
A. Most repair shops visually inspect for chassis wear during routine oil change service, but a thorough chassis inspection should be performed according to the manufacturer’s suggested interval. Independent service centers typically will offer vehicle inspections either in the fall, because road conditions are at their worst during the winter and it is a bad time to be stranded with a broken tie rod or ball joint, or in the spring, to assess if any corrosion or damage from curbs and potholes has occurred.
Q: What can vehicle owners do to avoid damage or unnecessary repairs to their vehicles’ chassis?
A. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for chassis inspection, wheel alignment and routine maintenance.
Drivers are encouraged to get regular vehicle inspections and get their vehicles serviced at a service center that has ASE-certified technicians. To find an ACDelco parts retailer near you, log on to acdelco.com or call 1-800-ACDelco.