Do you know about the "Good Book?" If you read it carefully, and truly understand its meaning, this book can be a savior to you. It can help you out of the most difficult situations, and keep you from getting into trouble in the first place.

It is a book you should read often, as its words can be easily forgotten. If you are a driver of a car, truck or SUV, read this book, and tell every other driver you care about to read it too.

Now don't run down to your local church to get this book, or even to your favorite bookstore, as you won't find it there. Just go out to your vehicle, open the glove box, take out all of the tissues packs, parking tickets, hair brushes, snacks and CD's, and reach for your vehicle's owner's manual.

Once you have read this "Good Book," you'll know when you change your oil and how to access the spare tire in case you get a flat. You'll know what the flashing light on the dashboard means, and how to program your favorite tunes on the radio. And you will learn things that will help keep your vehicle in tip-top running condition.

Surprisingly, many drivers never read their owner's manuals. They don't even open them up! We just jump into our vehicles and drive - perhaps because we take the privilege of driving for granted.

When writing this article, I conducted an informal survey amongst ten people I know well. I asked five men and five women if they had read their manuals. Of the men, only one had bothered to open it up, and this was after he had damaged his engine by failing to follow the recommended interval outlined in the manual for changing the car's timing belt.

Among the women, a pleasant surprise - four out of five had at least opened it, but all confessed to just glancing though it without really absorbing much of what they had read.

Then I called friends in England, Germany, India and Korea. Of the six friends I spoke to, all had read their manuals cover to cover, and knew lots when quizzed about the operation and maintenance of their vehicles. They basically wanted to know why I spent long distance phone call money to ask them such a dumb question, and were dumbfounded when I told them the results of my survey.

You see, by reading their manuals, they knew how the air conditioning system worked, and what settings they could use to clear the windows if they fogged up. They knew when to use high beams, and when using them could cause you and other drivers trouble. They knew that most cars don't require premium fuel, a real money saver in a country where gas can cost more than $4 a gallon. And they knew that keeping up with the maintenance on the vehicle could save tons of money, as the vehicle is far more reliable with proper servicing.

As a model for this article, I looked though the owner's manual of a Volvo station wagon. This well written manual takes you step by step though each of the car's operating systems, with an especially comprehensive section in the front of the manual on safety.

One very nice feature of this manual lies on the back cover. There you will find a color coded guide to which underhood fluids (oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer fluid) should be checked, where you can find the label to find what the proper air pressure for the car should be, and what the bulb numbers are for the bulbs that always seem to blow out at the worst time (like turn signal, headlight and brake light bulbs).

Most importantly, the owner's manual can guide you through the operation of safety items, like how to properly wear seatbelts, and install a child safety seat.

So I challenge each of you to clean out your glove box and read your owner's manual. Take it to lunch with you (but do remember to put it back in the glove box so it's there when you need it) and read a chapter a day over your tuna sandwich. By absorbing all of the information slowly, you'll retain more of it in when you need it.

After you read it and find out all of those new things, tell a friend. Tell them to read the "Good Book."


Copyright 2006 Automotive Rhythms Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brian L. Armstead

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