Florida TLSAE Course Module - Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle Maintenance

Introduction

All vehicles can break down - you see it every day along the side of the highway. A breakdown cannot only be costly; it can be extremely dangerous and put you in harm's way. Your vehicle is not just your transportation; it can be your protection from weather and other dangerous elements.

Regular vehicle maintenance and vehicle inspections can prevent breakdowns. Learning about maintaining your vehicle will give you confidence to handle problems as they occur.

Your vehicle's systems include engine, fuel, exhaust, steering, braking, tires, electrical, and lubrication systems. Common vehicle maintenance failures include brake, tire, and wiper failure. Each system requires care. Regular servicing will reduce the problems associated with system failures.

Learning Objectives

This module is about vehicle maintenance and how you can help prevent vehicle failure. The topics that will be covered include:
  • Routine Checks
  • Maintenance Before and During driving
  • Fuel Stops
  • Mileage-based Maintenance
  • Choosing a mechanic

1. Routine Checks

All of the different systems in your vehicle require maintenance. Some maintenance is required frequently and other checks are routine inspections. The idea is NOT BREAK DOWN because of system failure - maintenance is conducted to prevent moving and non-moving vehicle failure. Neither experience is safe and both will cost you time and expense. In addition to these routine maintenance recommendations, consult your owner's manual for a specific list recommended for your vehicle.


Weekly Checks:

  • Tire pressure (reference your owner's manual for the ideal pressure)
  • Tire tread condition (replace a tire if it has tread wear bars showing bald spots, cuts, embedded stones or metal fragments, or uneven wear on the inside or outside of the tire tread)
  • Check for leaking fluid

Monthly Checks:
  • Interior and exterior lights
  • Engine oil level
  • Brake fluid level and disc pads
  • Engine coolant level
Every Six Months Check:
  • Safety warning lamps
  • Steering and suspension alignment, shock absorbers, and gear box
  • Windshield wiper fluid level
  • Brake fluid level and disc pads
  • Engine coolant level
Mileage-based Maintenance: Every 15,000 miles
  • Check automatic transmission fluid level
  • Inspect brake system
  • Inspect hoses
  • Replace fuel filter
Mileage-based Maintenance: Every 30,000 miles
  • Conduct the 15,000 mile checks
  • Inspect exhaust system
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace engine air filter
  • Inspect accessory drive belts
  • Service automatic transmission
  • Check battery

2. Maintenance Before and During Driving

Before Driving

Before driving, make a habit of checking your vehicle for any changes in its condition.

Notice the tire inflation. Look for low inflation or flat tires. Do not change your tire if you are not experienced or comfortable with the procedure. Clean the windows and exterior lights if they are dirty. Check wipers, horn, lights, and gauges. If your wipers do not work or require replacement, do not drive in inclement weather until they are repaired.

After starting the engine, check:

Instruments - Ensure warning lights are off.

Fuel gauge - If it is less than half empty, plan to refuel soon.

Brake action - Push down on your brake pedal. If you feel no resistance, there is a breakdown of hydraulic pressure in the brake line. This indicates a possible brake failure. DO NOT attempt to drive. Obtain a professional towing service and have the system repaired before driving.

If the engine does not start, or if it doesn't sound normal, obtain the services of a professional mechanic. DO NOT attempt to jump start your vehicle if you are not familiar with the procedure and have not read the owner's manual for the specific procedures required for your vehicle.

As you begin to drive, check:

Brake response - The pedal should stay 3"-4" from the floor and feel firm, not spongy.

While driving:
  • Check instrument panel - Note warning lights
  • Listen for unusual noises or irregular sounds
  • Note vibrations and unusual smells
These indications are warning you that your vehicle is experiencing possible system failure. Schedule maintenance and do not drive until the problem is fixed.

Leaking Fluids and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Leaking Fluids

As you approach the vehicle, look underneath and around it for any leaking fluids. Color indicates the type of fluid leaking out.
  • Red: Transmission fluid - check transmission seals
  • Purple: Power steering fluid - check system
  • Black: Motor oil - check the engine and replace the oil
  • Green/Pink/Orange/Red: Coolant - check the water pump
  • Clear: Water - usually normal condensation or water from the air conditioner
Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is odorless and colorless, which means it can kill you before you are even aware you are being exposed to it. Symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, and fatigue, and are often mistaken for the flu. Your car produces carbon monoxide when running idle, and the carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels in enclosed spaces.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from your vehicle:
  • Never leave your car running for a long period in enclosed spaces (this includes garages)
  • Do routine checks on your vehicle to make sure your vehicle is running properly
  • Repair any exhaust system leaks

Fuel Stops

Gasoline has octane ratings, which are displayed on the fuel pump. Use fuel with the octane rating recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Using an octane rated higher than your vehicle requires does not increase power or fuel economy. To fuel your vehicle, pull up to the pump on the side where your gas cap is located. NEVER SMOKE around the fuel pump. Operating instructions are displayed on or near the pump.

Choosing a Mechanic

Select your mechanic before you experience vehicle failure.

New car dealers and repair shops display certificates and approvals earned by mechanics who pass specialized repair courses. Sometimes only your car dealer has the approvals, equipment, and diagnostics required to service today's sophisticated "systems."

Consult with family or friends to locate an experienced and reliable mechanic who will guarantee their work. Visit the shop on a Saturday when customers are waiting for their vehicles to be repaired. Inquire about the service and customer service that current customers are experiencing.

Make sure the mechanic(s) are ASE Certified. The National institute for Automotive Service Excellence is a professional certification testing organization for mechanics. Most service shops will not hire mechanics who are not certified by the ASE. Mechanics who pass the certification test demonstrate their knowledge and professionalism, and are therefore more reliable (on paper, at least) than those who do not become ASE Certified. You can find ASE-approved auto repair shops in your area by visiting the ASE web site.

Ensure your repair facility has the manufacturer's approval to maintain your vehicle. Before you have work done on your vehicle, ask for a detailed estimate. Shop around - eliminate the highest and lowest estimate. The estimate should list the service, the parts, and labor as separate line items. Do not authorize any work to be done that you have not approved on the estimate. If parts are replaced, request the replaced parts be returned to you when you pick up your vehicle. Keep copies of all service and maintenance records related to your vehicle.

Summary

  • All of the different systems in your vehicle require maintenance. Some maintenance or inspections are required frequently and other checks are based on miles driven.
  • Weekly - Check tire pressure and tread for wear or damages.
  • Monthly - Check lights, tires, and fluid levels.
  • Every six months - Check lamps, fluids, connections, belts, wipers.
  • Before driving - Check the instrument panel. Make a habit of checking your vehicle for any changes in its condition. As you approach the vehicle, look underneath and around it for any leaking fluids.
  • After starting the engine - Check instruments, gauges, and brake action. If the engine does not start, or if it doesn't sound normal, obtain the services of a professional mechanic.
  • While driving - Notice vibrations and listen for unusual noises or irregular sounds and smells.
  • Miles traveled = wear and tear on your vehicle, which requires maintenance.
  • Approximately every 3,000 - 5,000 miles - Change the oil and oil filter, rotate tires, and lubricate the chassis.
  • Approximately every 15,000 and 30,000 miles - Conduct maintenance as recommended in your owner's manual.
  • Use fuel with the octane rating recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Operating instructions are displayed on or near the pump. NEVER SMOKE around the fuel pump.
  • Select your mechanic before you experience vehicle failure. Ensure your repair facility has the manufacturer's approval to maintain your vehicle. Before you have work done on your vehicle, ask for a detailed estimate. Do not authorize any work to be done that you have not approved on the estimate. If parts are replaced, request the replaced parts be returned to you when you pick up your vehicle. Always keep copies of all service and maintenance records related to your vehicle.



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Emergencies
Roadside emergencies and collisions happen suddenly. Emergency situations require quick thinking and a fast response, especially when you are driving. Unexpected obstacles in the road can change your driving environment in a split second. Sometimes you can see the hazard coming. Either way, you need to be prepared to react and know what to do before it happens.

If you are involved in a collision, the law requires you to follow certain procedures.

If you experience a system failure or driving emergency, there are special driving techniques known as emergency maneuvers that are effective in improving the outcome of the hazardous situation.

If a tire fails or you have a blowout, do not use the brakes. Concentrate your attention on steering the vehicle. Slow down gradually. Brake slowly and softly when the car is fully under control. Make sure to pull the vehicle completely off the pavement.

Wet Brakes

In Florida, our heavy rain results in puddles or deep water forming quickly on the roads. Sometimes you may be forced to drive through deep water. As soon as you are done traveling through the water, lightly test your brakes. If your brakes are wet, they may pull to one side or may not hold at all. To dry the brakes, drive slowly in low gear and apply light pressure on your brake pedal.

Jammed Gas Pedal

If your gas pedal jams, keep your eyes on the road. Begin to tap on the gas pedal with your foot. If that doesn’t work, try to pry the pedal up with the toe of your shoe. Shift the vehicle’s transmission into neutral and turn off the ignition. Do not turn the key to lock or your steering wheel will lock. Apply your brakes and bring the vehicle to a stop.

Brake Failure

If your brakes fail, pump the brake pedal hard and fast, unless your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS). Shift into a lower gear. Apply the parking brake slowly and make sure that you are holding down the release lever or button. This will prevent your rear wheels from locking and your vehicle from skidding. Rub your tires up against the curb to slow your vehicle, or pull off the road into an open space.

Fire

If you have a small fire in your vehicle and you have a portable extinguisher, you should attempt to extinguish the fire. If you cannot put the fire out and it continues to get larger, get away from the vehicle. There is the chance of encountering toxic fumes and the possibility of an explosion. Do not try to put out a gasoline or diesel fire with water.

Engine Failure

If you lose engine power or control and cannot get completely off the road, turn on your emergency flashers. Stop where people can see you and your vehicle from all directions - especially from behind. Exit the vehicle if you are in danger of being struck by moving traffic. Call for roadside assistance. Set out warning triangles or flares only if it is safe to do so. Then wait in a safe location for assistance.

When Another Vehicle Approaches You Head-on

If another car or a motorcycle is approaching you in your lane head-on, immediately blow your horn. Apply your brakes sharply. Turn the vehicle toward the side of the road or toward a ditch if there is one.

Most drivers feel helpless during a skid because you lose traction and control of the vehicle's direction. Most skids are caused by drivers traveling too fast for conditions.

Excessive speed and wet, snowy, icy, or sandy road conditions combined with abrupt braking, steering, or acceleration can cause a skid. When you drive on reduced traction surfaces and try to change speed or direction too quickly, or try to change speed and direction at the same time, you greatly increase the risk of skidding.

Early detection is key to safe skid recovery. Early skid detection includes recognizing the cause. Skids are caused by hard braking, abrupt acceleration, or traveling too fast. Even for experienced drivers, skids can be frightening and dangerous. When road conditions change and traction is reduced, your tires could lose their grip on the road's surface, causing a skid and loss of vehicle control.

Follow these basic steps to regain control when you are in a skid:
  • Do not use your brakes, if at all possible.
  • Pump the brakes gently if you are about to hit something.
  • Steer the car into the direction of the skid to straighten the vehicle out. Then steer in the direction you wish to go.
  • Most skids are caused by driver error, although only about 15% of collisions are the direct result of a vehicle skidding. Most crashes happen because drivers take no action, the wrong action, or last-minute actions. Do not be one of those drivers. Recognize the conditions of the road. If they are wet, icy, or the pavement is loose or covered with leaves or oil, understand you are in a low traction environment. To avoid skidding, travel slow enough so your tires can grip the road and maintain your vehicle traction.
  • If your right wheels leave the pavement, getting safely back on the road is a manageable situation.
  • Do not panic - take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • Hold the wheel firmly and steer in a straight line.
  • Brake lightly.
  • Wait until the road is clear.
  • Turn back onto the pavement sharply at a slow speed.
  • Note that the height difference between the paved road and the shoulder may affect the stability of your vehicle. Avoid panic braking or acceleration which could cause your vehicle to skid.
  • And finally, if you turn the steering wheel too sharply, your vehicle may skid, roll over, or head directly across the roadway into oncoming traffic.
In the event of a roadside breakdown, it is important to remain calm and attempt to prevent further risk of damage or injury to yourself or others by moving the vehicle out of the roadway.

If you are having car trouble, and need to stop, but are still able to drive slowly:
  • Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Maneuver to the right lane and locate a wide shoulder where there is clear visibility from behind and if possible, all other directions. If possible, park so that your vehicle can be seen for 200 feet in each direction.
  • Use the shoulder to drive to the nearest exit or other location where it is safe to park. If you cannot make it to an exit, park as far from the travel lane as possible. Park the vehicle, making sure that all four wheels are off the pavement.
  • If you park in tall, dry grass on the roadside, watch for potential fire that could be caused by heat from your exhaust system.
  • If you are unable to get safely to the right side of the road, park on the left in a clearly visible area.
  • Get all passengers out on the side of the vehicle that is away from traffic.
  • Tie a white cloth on the left door handle or antenna.
  • Raise the vehicle’s hood.
  • Call for roadside assistance and wait for help in a safe place. This may be outside the vehicle and away from traffic.
  • If your vehicle is in a safe location, clear of traffic:
  • Lock the doors and wait for your roadside service provider.
  • Do not open your doors to strangers that want to assist you. Have them call for help if you have not already done so.

If you see warning triangles, flares, a vehicle's hazard lights, or emergency vehicles ahead, slow down. You may be approaching the scene of a collision. Warn drivers behind you by turning on your emergency flashers or tapping your brake pedal quickly three or four times.

Avoid driving near collisions. If possible, watch for pedestrians and do not slow down more than necessary. DO NOT stop just to look; this common curiosity causes other collisions and interrupts traffic flow.

Because of the high speed, erratic maneuvers, and hazards present, the space around dispatched emergency vehicles is very high-risk for all nearby drivers. It is against the law to follow closely behind any fire engine, police car, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle with a siren or flashing lights.

If you are the only one on the scene, call 911. DO NOT move any victim unless they are in immediate danger of sustaining life threatening injury.

Post-Collision Management

If you are involved in a collision, no matter how minor, there are procedures you are required to follow by law.

If you are involved in a collision, you must stop. If you don’t stop, you could be convicted of a “hit-and-run” and have your license revoked. If there are victims at the scene, they could be injured and need your help. If you leave the scene without helping them, it could result in further injury or death for those victims.

After you are involved in a collision:
  • Remain calm.
  • Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Do not leave the scene unless a medical emergency requires you to do so.
  • Call 911 and request police or medical assistance. Be prepared to tell the 911 operator your specific location and the condition of the individuals involved.
  • If the vehicles are still operational, move the vehicles out of traffic, as far off the roadside as possible. NOTE: If injuries and other circumstances are involved, some police departments require you to leave the vehicles at the location where the collision occurred until investigators are able to arrive on the scene. Other jurisdictions require you to move the vehicle out of traffic. Check your local laws for the proper crash procedure.
  • Turn off the ignition switches in each damaged vehicle.
  • Stay away from traffic.
  • Never cross an expressway on foot.
  • Assess the situation and communicate danger to others.
  • If your vehicle is in a safe location and is clearly visible to oncoming traffic, communicate your situation to other road users. Set out flares and warning triangles.
  • If there is property damage as a result of the collision, and you are unable to locate the owner, leave a note with your name and address. Report the collision immediately to the city police, or, if you are in an unincorporated area, call 911 or report the collision to the nearest law enforcement authorities.
  • Give a collision report to the police.
  • Present your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance to the police. Be aware of your personal safety and protection if approached by the other driver or any passengers. Request identification and exchange information.
  • Obtain names and addresses of witnesses.
  • Notify your insurance carrier.
  • If you are injured, see a doctor.

Summary Review

1. True or False: The height difference between the paved road and the shoulder may affect the stability of your vehicle. True

2. To dry the brakes, drive slowly in  Low gear  and apply light pressure on your brake pedal.

3. True or False: If your brakes fail, slam on them as hard as possible. False

4. Most skids are caused by drivers traveling  Too fast for conditions .

5. If your vehicle breaks down pull off the roadway, and if possible, park so that your vehicle can be seen for  200  feet in each direction.

6. The first thing to do if your vehicle leaves the roadway is: Take your foot off the accelerator

7. If you park in tall dry grass on the roadside, watch for: The potential for fire

8. If your vehicle catches fire while you are driving you should: Stop and get away from the vehicle

9. Approximately  15 % of vehicular collisions are the direct result of a vehicle skidding.

10. True or False: You should not move any victim unless they are in immediate danger of sustaining life threatening injury. True


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Who is required to take this 4-hour drug and alcohol course?


This is a first-time drivers ed course for new aspiring drivers. The state of Florida requires all new drivers take a 4-hour drug and alcohol course. If you want your Permit License you must take this course. You can take the DATA course when you are 14 1/2. You can sign up right now at our website. Our course is easy and fun!
  •     Florida 4 hour first-time drivers course also referred as:
  •     TLSAE - Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education
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  •     DATE Drug Alcohol Traffic Awareness Education course
  •     ADAPT - Alcohol Drugs Accident Prevention Training
  •     Drug & Alcohol Course or Drug and Alcohol Class
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  •     The Permit Test is also known as the DMV Exam or DMV Test
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