You may only have your car serviced once a year, but it is a really important job to keep you safe on the road. Servicing is not merely about making sure that the engine is running reliably or that you have enough oil in the car's reservoir—it is done to ensure that you and your car's occupants remain protected when you are out and about. Yes, a car service will look into the electrics, the moving parts of the engine and important safety features—such as seatbelts and air bags—but it should also mean a great deal of attention is paid to your wheels and tyres.
Since the wheels of your car come in for lots of punishment when you're driving about, they need to be inspected thoroughly. In fact, you really ought to have them looked at every six months or so, not just during the car's annual check-up. Why are the wheels so crucial, and what needs to be checked?
As you drive around, your car's wheels will almost inevitably go out of alignment with one another. You may not notice this as a driver because it tends to happen gradually. However, once misaligned wheels are straightened out, then you will probably immediately feel how much more responsive your car becomes. Bumping over kerbs will knock the alignment of any car's wheels. When wheels are not parallel with one another, the tyre tread will wear down more rapidly. What's more, misaligned tyres create greater friction, so you end up spending more money on petrol because your fuel economy rate will drop off.
A car service should always include inspections of your tyres. This won't simply mean looking for wear and tear to the tyre tread, although this is important to make sure you have adequate grip. A full inspection should also look for bulging sections of rubber, a sure sign of progressive degradation. In addition, it will mean checking whether or not your tyres have the correct level of inflation. Even partially flat tyres can cause your car to handle poorly, and this can cause accidents if you need to stop or swerve in an emergency.
An integral part of any wheel's mechanism, brake pads use friction to slow you down. As a consequence, they heat up and wear down over time. Brake pads are not difficult or that costly to replace. However, lots of Australians drive on ones which should have been exchanged some time ago. Make sure your servicing mechanic has checked yours thoroughly.