Many car owners are negligent, unaware

By Cody Casares, Assistant Photo Editor

Working as an automotive technician, inspecting  cars has provided me with horrific insight into how people treat the vehicles they are so dependent on.

Why is it that people spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, on such an important item, yet do not take the time to learn how to properly take care of their car? Cars wear out, components fail and things just sometimes go wrong. It’s the car owner’s responsibility to recognize these issues and understand the possible dangers.

There are people who are confronted with significant safety issues, like bald tires with holes ripped in the side, and do nothing about it.

Whether the lack of care stems from ignorance or lack of money to fix these issues, there is no excuse. People tend to forget that lives are constantly at stake on the road. People just get in their cars and go.

Midas, the automotive oil-change service I work for, requires the technicians to conduct a 17-point courtesy inspection covering most, if not all, areas of the car that could potentially need service, including air filters, tire tread depth, serpentine belts, hoses, coolant level, oil level, checking for fluid leaks, torn boots and broken-suspension components are just some of the few things reviewed at my job. If it could be broken, it gets written down and shown physically to the customer with his or her car on the lift.    

About a month ago a couple in a 2013 Mazda 3 hatchback came in for their scheduled oil change service.  During the inspection I noticed a 6-inch long gash along the inside edge of their front-right tire, exposing the nylon threads underneath the rubber.

I brought the couple out and showed them the damage. As I was explaining the risk of a possible blowout from something as simple as hitting a pot hole, I was interrupted by the man who said, “Oh yeah, we know.” They then immediately drove off.

He completely ignored the fact that they were endangering not only themselves but others on the road. The couple drove away without inquiring on how much a new tire would cost.

Without ever knowing it, this car could be traveling in front of you at 80 mph when suddenly its front tire explodes and rim digs into the asphalt and catches, pitching the car sideways in front of you.

But it’s cool, he knew about it. The knowledge of how many jalopies are out there just waiting to fall apart is horrifying, coupled with accident statistics in the U.S., this makes me want to walk everywhere.

A women driving a $20,000 Chevrolet Equinox came in insisting that her temperature gauge must be broken, as it continuously told her that the car was overheating. She drove the car to the point where the vehicle’s computer shut off the engine while she was driving on the freeway, trying to save itself from its owner. She had not bothered checking her coolant level, which was empty.

Cars are a luxury taken for granted too often.

I am not saying everyone should be a certified master mechanic or hold a mechanical engineering degree. But people should have general knowledge to properly care for and maintain the cars and trucks they drive everyday around others like you and me.

Cody Casares is an assistant photo editor of The Advocate. Contact him at [email protected].