You didn’t think you’d be able to just pack up and go, did you? Not so fast! Can you pass this pre-trip roadworthy test from the Car Care Council?

Knowing the correct answers could make the difference between a successful vacation and one that’s littered with repair bills or even more serious consequences.

1. Most tires have wear bars running crosswise in the tread that cause a thumping noise when tread depth is less than 1/4″. (T) (F).

2. The cooling system should be flushed and refilled with fresh antifreeze-coolant even if the inside of the radiator looks clean. (T) (F)

3. Platinum tipped spark plugs may last for as many as 100,000 miles. (T) (F)

4. A squealing sound when the brakes are applied sometimes indicates a hard spot on the brake pads. (T) (F)

5. For most driving today oil needs to be changed only every 7,500 miles (T) (F).

6. If the engine turns over but won’t start, you probably need a new fuel filter (T) (F).

7. If the engine turns over but won’t start, you probably need a new battery (T) (F).

8. If the engine turns over but won’t start, you probably need a new starter (T) (F).

9. The most common cause of breakdown on the road is broken muffler brackets. (T) (F).

10. Weak shock absorbers on a car loaded with vacation luggage can cause the rear end to sag. (T) (F).


1. False. Wear bars are 2/32″ deep. When your tires wear to that point, they’re vulnerable to failure and to hydroplaning on a wet road.

2. True. Some additives in anti-freeze coolant, such as anti-corrosive chemicals, can be depleted with time, yet the anti-freeze coolant looks OK. Regular flushing of the cooling system and replacement of anti-freeze coolant helps avoid a later, and bigger, expense in radiator repair.

3. True. New spark plug technology, along with improved engine design and lead-free fuel, have greatly extended spark plug life. However, the active word in question #3 is “may”. Fine print in most owner’s manuals indicate circumstances where more frequent engine service is recommended. (Tests show that a 4 cylinder car with just one spark plug misfiring takes 54% more time than normal to accelerate from 25 mph to 55 mph.)

4. True. Other causes of brake noise include the squeal of a wear warning indicator or, in the case of excessive wear, the annoying sound of metal against metal.

5. False. That interval is recommended for driving under optimum conditions. Check your owner’s manual. Most technicians advise 3,000 – 4,000 mile oil changes for maximum engine life. Always change the filter when changing oil.

6. False. A clogged fuel filter is most likely to cause a faltering engine under heavy load.

7. False. Invest your money in a diagnostic check-up. The engine turned over, so the battery probably is OK.

8. False. Back to diagnosis. The engine can’t turn over if the starter is shot.

9. False. Cooling system trouble is the most common cause of car trouble on the open road.

10. False. Weak or overloaded springs cause the rear end to sag, not weak shocks. Air shocks, which can be inflated for extra support, can be installed as can overload springs or other auxiliary support accessories available in auto supply stores.

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