Vehicle Maintenance on And Off the Race Track

(NUI) - The wear and tear on a race truck in just one Craftsman Truck Series is more than your pickup or car would suffer in 100,000 miles on the street, but both require regular maintenance for best performance. Proper maintenance means saving money and avoiding the inconvenience of a breakdown. You should address getting ready for winter just like we prepare for a race.

First, check your car or truck mechanically. Check the fluid levels. Look for obvious problems and signs of wear. Replace items like belts and hoses according to the schedule in the owner's manual. Preventive maintenance is better and cheaper than fixing what breaks.

Next, check the tires. Whether it's in turn three on the race track or on a wet, icy road, the tires need to be at their best. Watch for cuts, uneven wear or objects lodged in the tread that can cause a puncture. To work and last like they should, tires need to be properly inflated; keep a tire gauge in your glove box.

Tire wear can tell you a lot about your car or truck. If there is uneven wear or cupping, it may indicate a problem with the tire or suspension alignment.

If your car sags, sways or "dives" when braking or cornering, or has a harsh, bumpy ride, especially after hitting a bump or pothole, your shocks, struts or suspension parts may be worn.

Finally, check the battery. A battery that barely got you through the summer may not start your truck when the weather turns cold, especially if it's more than three years old. In fact, it's the combination of heat and natural vibration during the summer season that causes battery problems in colder temperatures, not the cold itself.

The only accurate way to determine battery strength is to let a certified technician with professional equipment verify its level of charge. Therefore, get your battery checked before the cold weather sets in.

If you need help with service and maintenance, look for a place like a Sears Auto Center where they have the tools, equipment and training to do the work properly.

But if you should be stranded, a simple set of Craftsman tools tucked behind the seat can make the difference between going home on the hook or behind the wheel.

For more information about Sears Auto Centers or Craftsman tools, visit the Sears Web site at

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Crew Chief Kevin Cram is an expert on high-powered racing machines. He says the lessons learned on the track do, indeed, apply to the race trucks' street cousins.

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