Car sa­fe­ty: know a­bout cri­ti­cal com­po­nents

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

Be­lie­ve it or not, the­re are ma­ny sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents that ma­ke up your car and the­se ha­ve to be main­tai­ned, says Jak­kie O­li­vier, CEO of the Re­tail Mo­tor In­du­stry Or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on (RMI).

“Our ro­ads are pla­gued with un­ro­ad­worthy vehi­cles w­he­re ma­ny of the sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents ha­ve long been neg­lected. The­se vehi­cles are de­ath traps, not on­ly for the pas­sen­gers in the vehi­cle but for ot­her ro­ad u­sers too. We ha­ve to get se­ri­ous a­bout re­gu­lar main­te­nan­ce of vehi­cle com­po­nents to ma­ke su­re our ro­ads are sa­fer,” he says.

So, w­hat ex­act­ly would be con­si­de­red sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents?

Hed­ley Judd, di­rec­tor of the Mo­tor Parts & E­quip­ment As­so­ci­a­ti­on (MPEA), an af­fi­li­a­te as­so­ci­a­ti­on of the RMI, says sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents can be des­cri­bed as the li­fe and limb com­po­nents of the car. “The­se are the ty­pe of com­po­nents that, if not chec­ked and main­tai­ned, ma­ke a vehi­cle un­ro­ad­worthy, und­ri­va­ble, and an ac­ci­dent wai­ting to hap­pen. Ho­we­ver, a part that could le­a­ve the vehi­cle and d­ri­ver stran­ded could al­so be re­gar­ded as sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal,” he says.

The bra­ke sy­stem, sus­pen­si­on sy­stem, ty­res and vi­si­bi­li­ty (i.e. windscreens, wipers, lig­hts, etc) ma­ke up the four ma­jor groups of parts that are con­si­de­red sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents.

“The­re is a long list of com­po­nents that fall out­si­de of the­se grou­pings that would al­so be chec­ked du­ring a rou­ti­ne car ser­vi­ce, such as the con­di­ti­on of the clutch and bat­te­ry, joints, en­gi­ne and ge­ar­box moun­tings, and so on. It’s pret­ty ob­vi­ous, though, that if the bra­ke sy­stem malfuncti­ons, for ex­am­ple, it di­rect­ly af­fects the sa­fe­ty of the vehi­cle and its pas­sen­gers,” says Judd.

O­li­vier says mo­to­ris­ts and fleet o­w­ners need to ta­ke no­te of the ma­nu­fac­tu­rers’ re­com­men­da­ti­ons in terms of the spe­ci­fied main­te­nan­ce pe­ri­ods of the­se com­po­nents. “Car com­po­nents ha­ve a li­fe span just li­ke ot­her hou­se­hold ap­pli­an­ces. You can ex­tend this li­fe span though through pro­per main­te­nan­ce.”

He u­ses oil and oil fil­ters as an ex­am­ple. “Oil does not last fo­re­ver. De­pen­ding on the en­gi­ne con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on and fu­el re­qui­re­ments, an oil chan­ge is re­qui­red from 10 000km to

30 000km. C­han­ging oil and not the fil­ter is not be­st practi­ce. Oils ha­ve very com­plex struc­tu­res and the ma­nu­fac­tu­rer’s spe­ci­fied lu­bri­cant pro­ducts should al­ways be u­sed. The fu­el fil­ter is the i­tem that en­su­res that cle­an (par­ti­cle free) fu­el flows to the in­jec­tor sy­stem, w­he­re e­ven the ti­niest par­ti­cle can cau­se a blocka­ge and an en­gi­ne to stop run­ning. By sim­ply fol­lo­wing the gui­de­li­nes and en­su­ring the oil and fil­ter are chan­ged re­gu­lar­ly, you can ex­tend the li­fe span of your en­gi­ne.”

Judd high­lig­hts two com­po­nents that may be o­ver­look­ed but are al­so sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal: tow bars and trai­lers.

“A tow bar is de­sig­ned to wit­hstand the spe­ci­fic pa­ra­me­ters of the to­wing ca­pa­bi­li­ties of the vehi­cle and must be cor­rect­ly fit­ted. Un­der no ci­r­cum­stan­ces can a tow bar be sa­fely re­pai­red by a­nyo­ne ot­her than the o­ri­gi­nal ma­nu­fac­tu­rer, who will most pro­ba­bly be re­luc­tant to re­pair the pro­duct. The wi­ring of the trai­ler soc­ket on the tow bar must be do­ne cor­rect­ly, and alt­hough in most ca­ses to­day this is a plug-and-play functi­on, you should al­ways check the o­pe­ra­ti­on of the trai­ler lig­hts e­very ti­me a trai­ler is con­nected. The tow ball on the tow bar must be the cor­rect si­ze and weig­ht ca­pa­ci­ty,” he says.

He adds that w­hen hit­ching a trai­ler you need to en­s­u­re the lo­ad dis­tri­bu­ti­on is cen­tred in front of the main ax­le, ma­king the front of the trai­ler he­a­vier than the re­ar. This should not, ho­we­ver, ex­ceed 50kg di­rect do­wn­for­ce on the tow ball. “Weig­ht dis­tri­bu­ti­on cen­tred to the re­ar of the ax­le will cau­se the trai­ler to be un­sta­ble and dan­ge­rous to tow. Re­mem­ber that e­ven a small trai­ler out of con­t­rol can cau­se a vehi­cle to ha­ve a rol­lo­ver ac­ci­dent.”

O­li­vier says ex­perts at an RMI-accre­di­ted re­pair and main­te­nan­ce fa­ci­li­ty will be a­ble to as­sess and ad­vi­se you on the sta­tus of your sa­fe­ty cri­ti­cal com­po­nents.

“Ma­ke su­re that you use an accre­di­ted fa­ci­li­ty works­hop. Not on­ly can you be as­su­red of a qua­li­ty ser­vi­ce, but if you are not hap­py with the ser­vi­ce re­cei­ved the­re is re­cour­se through the dis­pu­te re­so­lu­ti­on pro­cess at your dis­po­sal,” he says. “Let’s ma­ke our ro­ads sa­fer.”

Ex­am­ple of a well-main­tai­ned bra­ke sy­stem.

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