Thursday, August 25, 2011

How's your vehicle?

At work some of us have assigned vehicles and some use a pool vehicle.  I am very fortunate that I have an assigned vehicle. That's not to say that other people aren't allowed to use it, they are, but they never do. I am responsible for taking care of the truck.  I don't have to pay for anything- other than as a taxpayer I pay my share, but I am supposed to make sure the vehicle is driven properly and maintained properly.  When I got this truck, a 3/4 ton 4x4, it stayed in perfect condition for about two months.  Then I smacked the front right under the bumper.  I was driving down a steep road that wasn't a road and smacked into a rock that I didn't see in the bottom of an almost dry creek bed. I made sure I picked up my license plate that I tore off. Oops. 

Other than my celebration of not doing this in front of witnesses who would harass me for the life of the truck, I had to report it and make sure that it didn't affect the truck.  Just lots of paperwork.  We finished ripping off the plastic piece and decided not to replace it as I'm sure I'd do it again. 

Every day prior to getting into the vehicle I'm required to conduct a pre-use vehicle safety inspection.  The mileage sheet that I sign is also the certification that I do this.  Even though I'd prefer not to conduct the inspection every day, if something went wrong or if it was noted by someone else that I damaged the vehicle I would lose some of my vehicle privileges.  Or, worse than that, I could be fined.  So, I do what I'm told and inspect the vehicle.  There is a statement in the certification that is pretty important: "...and that any problems affecting driving safety were repaired prior to driving the vehicle..."

Here's the list:
1. Visually inspect tires for wear and proper inflation
2. Windshield, wiper blades, side and rear glass
3. Seats, seat belts, loose items, horn, rear view mirrors
4. Exterior Lighting – Headlight High and Low Beam, Turn Signals, Parking and Clearance Lights, Brake Lights
5. Brake: drive vehicle 10 ft. apply brakes, check operation
6. Check emergency/parking brake operation
7. Check engine oil, coolant, and fuel levels
8. Fire extinguisher, first aid kit, accident forms, vehicle registration
9. Emergency reflectors

Although some of this probably doesn't need to be done every day, it's still a good idea to check this regularly.  One of my requirements with my home vehicle and my work vehicle is that I need to be able to jump into either truck and KNOW that I can drive it where ever I need to go (2 or 4 wheel drive) and it will get me there without any least anything that should be preventable. 

How often do you check your vehicle's fluids?  Are you sure your lights all work?  When was the last time that you cleaned the smashed bugs off your headlights?  How is your spare tire doing?  Do you know where it is and how to get it out of it's hiding place? When was the last time you picked up the junk inside the vehicle so you don't have loose items?  Do you know what happens to loose items in a collision?  It's not pretty.


  1. Good checklist. I have to admit I allowed our family to generally drive substandard vehicles. They have put up with windows that didn't go up or down, A/C that didn't work or exist and other such "inconveniences" in my eyes, but problems for them. It also was a bit of Dad holding the youngsters responsible for their collisions.

    That has changed and we have a "new" car. I think it is time to make sure we can get somewhere else if we need to quickly and safely.

  2. 5 years ago I would pay someone to change my oil, when I happened to remember to do it. Now the only thing I can't do is an engine swap, just because I haven't done one.

    I always walk around whatever vehicle I am going to drive to make sure the tires all look properly aired up and that there isn't any damage. Since I park at remote trailheads for running, I never know when someone might decide to loosen some lug nuts or smash a window out.

    I do a lot of off-roading and last time I rolled my Jeep, the only thing that came out was about $1.67 in change. The people I hang with normally are all LMI as far as vehicle maintenance so at least we keep each other in check and when it comes time to replace a broken axle shaft, it's about 15 minutes down time.

    Just today I pulled next to someone to let them know they had a flat tire. The guy got irate and screamed back "I KNOW I'M DRIVING TO 7 ELEVEN TO FIX IT". I nodded knowing he also needed a new rim from the way it was cutting into the pavement.

  3. Our family truck is 10 years old and has 100,000 miles on it. Since I don't have a car payment I figure I should spend one or two "car payments" per year on maintenance. By spending money on the truck before it breaks I've managed to keep it in almost new condition. I only want to buy one more truck in my lifetime so this one needs to last another 10 years!