Do's and don'ts

Here are some key tips for car owners

Avoid driving in flooded areas. Getty Images

Michael Herzing, former president of the Texas Auto Writers Association, will be providing auomotive coverage for SportsMap. His first offering includes key tips for car owners. 

Stay away from high water

Is it my imagination or does it seem that people in Texas lose all their common sense when it is raining? You’re driving along in a heavy rain and you see water over the curb ahead. And you drive right into it? Folks, don’t ever drive in high water. It can damage the brakes, transmission, differential, and the wheel bearings. And if the water gets inside, you can forget it.

Please use common sense during these fall storms. If an area usually floods, don’t drive there. If you drive through curb-deep water and make it through fine, stop by your shop in the next few days and have them check the brakes. The lubrication can be washed off of the brake hardware ,and it corrodes and causes premature brake wear and sometimes failure. Unless you want to spend huge money on brakes and differentials instead of clothes and food, get your car checked out ASAP.

And for heaven's sake, unless you are a mechanic or you are independently wealthy, don’t ever buy a car that has been flooded, even if it is cheap.

Check under the hood

While not as crucial as it used to be, checking under the hood occasionally can head off little problems before they become big ones. Of course, not many people do it — when was the last time you actually looked under your hood? Now that I have reminded you about it, it’s time to figure out how to do it. Check your owner’s manual. There will always be a section on under hood checks. Keep a pair of old gloves and a roll of paper towels in the trunk.  

Read the safety warnings in your owner’s manual and any warning stickers that may be under the hood. Most everything under the hood will be hot, so be careful. Except for checking transmission fluid level, all checks should be done while the engine is turned off. If the engine is running, don’t put your hands near any belts or fans, unless you want to be called “Stubby.” If you are not comfortable with touching a hot or running engine, then just do the checks that can be done with the engine cold, and have someone else do the rest. The secret is to do it.

When is the best time to buy a car?

There are a lot of different answers to this question, but usually, the end of the year is the best time. It all depends on what factors you look at. Dealers hate to pay taxes on their inventory, and if a vehicle is on the lot January 1, taxes must be paid. Since the end of the year has people thinking about other things besides car sales, it is typically the low point of the year for auto sales. Something has to give, and it’s usually the dealer’s prices. If you have the money or the credit, you are in good shape.

If you are in the market for a convertible, buy during the rainy season. Most people buy convertibles as the weather gets nicer, so a convertible that's for sale at a dealership may have been on the lot for some time, and the dealership would want to move it. If you are buying a motorcycle, do it either during the bleakest part of winter or the hottest part of summer. If you are buying a kid's motorcycle, do it just after Christmas.

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