The purpose of brakes is to allow the driver to slow down or stop the vehicle, upon pressing down on the brake pedal. The brakes must be in top working condition, so that in an emergency the driver is able to stop completely without incident. The brake pads need to be maintained by repairing or replacing them since they get the most wear.
There are two independent braking systems in your vehicle:
Service brakes are used to slow your vehicle while you are driving.
Parking brake (also referred to as the emergency brake) can also be used to slow your vehicle in an emergency, but is mainly used to hold your vehicle in one place while stopped or parked.
When you press your brake pedal, a piston in your master cylinder forces brake fluid through hydraulic lines to pistons in the wheel cylinders at the wheels.
There are two types of brakes:
Drum brakes slow your vehicle by the friction of a brake shoe pushing against the drum that is rotating with the wheel.
Disk brakes slow your car by the friction of a caliper pressing against a disc that is rotating with the wheel.
Both drum and disk brakes convert friction force to heat and if the brakes get too hot, they cease to work because they cannot dissipate enough heat. For both types of brakes, your stopping distance time is roughly proportional to the square of your speed, so if you double your speed you quadruple the distance to stop your car.
When you are stopped and apply your brakes, they lock. It is the friction force between the tires and the road that keeps you from moving. Brakes will only slow your car while there is friction between the moving parts of your brakes.
If the wheels are locked, as in the case of a skid, the drums or discs are not moving and there will be no friction.
The purpose of antilock brake systems is to prevent the brakes from becoming locked by first sensing if they are locked and then automatically and rapidly releasing and applying pressure.
If you do not have antilock brakes, you can avoid having your brakes lock by manually and rapidly releasing and then reapplying pressure to your brake pedal.
The parking brake uses a cable rather than a hydraulic system to engage your brakes or clamp down on your drive shaft and will therefore function even if your service brakes have failed.
The charging system is what provides the electrical current for your vehicle. Without a charging system, your battery will be depleted and your vehicle will shut down. The charging system gauge or warning lamp monitors the health of this system so that you have a warning of a problem before you get stuck.
There are two types of gauges used to monitor charging systems:
It measures system voltage. A modern automobile has a 12-volt electrical system. A fully charged battery will read about 12.5 volts when the engine is not running. When the engine is running, the charging system takes over so that the voltmeter will read 14 to 14.5 volts and should stay there unless there is a heavy load on the electrical system such as wipers, lights, heater and rear defogger all operating together while the engine is idling at which time the voltage may drop. If the voltage drops below 12.5, it means that the battery is providing some of the current. You may notice that your dash lights dim at this point. If this happens for an extended period, the battery will run down and may not have enough of a charge to start the car after shutting it off. This should never happen with a healthy charging system because as soon as you step on the gas, the charging system will recharge the battery. If the voltage is constantly below 14 volts, you should have the system checked. If the voltage ever goes above 15 volts, there is a problem with the voltage regulator. Have the system checked as soon as possible as this "overcharging" condition can cause damage to your electrical system.
It measures amperage. If the battery is fully charged and there is minimal electrical demand, then the ammeter should read close to zero, but should always be on the positive side of zero. It is normal for the ammeter to read high positive amperage in order to recharge the battery after starting, but it should taper off in a few minutes. If it continues to read more than 10 or 20 amps even though the lights, wipers and other electrical devices are turned off, you may have a weak battery and should have it checked.
Unrestrained occupants of a car keep moving during the time the car takes to stop due to inertia. They will still be moving forward at their original speed when they slam into the steering wheel, windshield or other part of the car. This force is equivalent to that of hitting the ground when falling from a three-story building. When hit from behind, inertia causes a person's neck to bend backwards, which can result in whiplash.
You may not operate your vehicle on public roads or on private property, such as parking lots, unless you and all of your passengers eight years of age or older or who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller, are wearing seatbelts.
Children younger than eight years old or who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall are seated in a federally approved child passenger restraint system.
You and your passengers must wear seat belts while your vehicle is moving on public roads and on private property, such as parking lots.
If seat belts are not worn by any of your passengers, you and the passenger(s) can be cited. If the passenger is younger than 16 years of age, you will be cited if he or she is not wearing his or her seat belt.
Always use your seat belts (including the shoulder harness) even if the vehicle is equipped with air bags. You can have shoulder harnesses or seat belts installed in older vehicles. Even if you wear only a lap belt when driving, your chances of living through a collision are twice as high as someone who does not wear a lap belt. If you wear a lap and shoulder belt, your chances are three to four times higher to live through a collision.
Pregnant women should wear the lap belt as low as possible under the abdomen, and the shoulder strap should be placed between the breasts and to the side of the abdomen's bulge.
Using seatbelts reduces the risk of being thrown from your vehicle in a collision. If you do not install and use a shoulder harness with the seat (lap) belt, serious or fatal injuries may happen in some crashes. Lap-only belts increase the chance of spinal column and abdominal injuries—especially in children. Shoulder harnesses may be available for your vehicle, if it is not already equipped with them.
The costs directly related to the number of miles driven such as gasoline, replacing tires, oil changes and replacing other components that wear out with use.
The costs for insurance, registration, depreciation and maintenance that must be performed regardless of miles driven.
Depreciation is a significant cost in owning a vehicle. Depreciation is the amount you have paid for the privilege of owning and driving the vehicle in addition to what you have paid for gas, maintenance, insurance and so on. As your car accumulates more miles or gets older (regardless of how many miles it has been driven), it is worth less when you sell it. Depreciation is particularly high during the period immediately after buying a new car. The yearly depreciation cost decreases as the car gets older.
In selecting a vehicle you must consider how you will use it in your work and recreation, the number and age of passengers to be transported and the need for dependability. Consider all of these costs when making a decision about what type of vehicle to purchase.
Depreciation is particularly high during the period immediately after buying a new car and the yearly depreciation cost decreases as the car gets older.
If you drive your car very little, gas mileage and maintenance may not be a significant consideration but depreciation, insurance and registration will be.
If you drive your car a lot, gas mileage and day-to-day repairs will be significant cost considerations.
If you buy a new rather than used car, your costs for financing, depreciation, registration and insurance will be higher but your maintenance costs will probably be lower. The dependability of the vehicle will probably be better and the crash worthiness and fuel efficiency may be better.
If buying a used car, it is wise to have the vehicle inspected for mechanical condition prior to purchase.
When purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, the dealer submits fees, use tax and other documents to register the vehicle with the DMV.
If you finance a car, the interest you pay on the money you have borrowed may be significant.
You may be required to pay for insurance that you would not have otherwise chosen and if you fail to make payments the car can be repossessed and your credit history may be negatively affected.
When purchasing from a private party, the seller provides a bill of sale, smog certification and an endorsed Certificate of Title. The seller also submits a Notice of Release of Liability to the DMV within 5 days. The buyer pays the use tax and is responsible for registering vehicle with the DMV within 10 days.
When considering the purchase of a used vehicle, it is important that you know what the mechanical condition of the vehicle is. A simple test drive or a simple look under the hood cannot do this. You must take the vehicle to a qualified and trusted mechanic. Preferably use a mechanic who you know very well and have had great experiences with. They will be able to get into the vehicle and check its entire engine and electrical system. If the mechanic gives the vehicle a "clean bill of health" then you can make an educated decision of whether to purchase the vehicle
Always lock your car doors while driving and roll windows up far enough to keep anyone from reaching inside.
At stop signs and lights keep the car in gear and stay alert.
Travel on well-lighted, busy streets.
Keep your purse and other valuables out of sight, even when you are driving in your locked car.
Park in safe, well-lighted areas near your destination.
Always lock your car, even for a short absence.
Before unlocking your car, quickly check to make sure no one is hiding on your seats or floors, front and back.
Never pick up a hitchhiker. Even the most harmless-looking stranger can be dangerous.
When you arrive home, leave your headlights on until you have the car in the garage and the house door unlocked. If you can, have a remote control garage door opener installed; it will allow you to remain in your locked car until you're inside your locked garage.
Check the daily routes you travel and learn the where the gas stations, convenience stores, and police and fire stations are along your route. If trouble should arise, drive straight to one of these locations.
Here are some facts about vehicle theft:
Every 33 seconds a car is stolen
More than a million cars are stolen each year
40% have keys in the ignition
Most are stolen by young opportunists
80% are unlocked.