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Simple repairs can save a driver a lot of money down the road.

Few things are as annoying as that warning light that suddenly pops up on your dashboard. All too often, drivers put off dealing with those potentially costly repairs until it’s too late.

However, in the course of vehicle ownership, there are often maintenance issues that fall into the same category as the “warning light repairs,” but those fixes may cost you more than money — they can mean court time due to the ticket you may be issued.

“Ignoring certain vehicle repairs may seem to save money in the short term but can lead to extra costs, such as fines or ‘fix-it’ tickets, if these problems are not taken care of when they arise,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. 

“In some jurisdictions, car owners may even lose their license for certain violations. A few dollars spent on simple vehicle repairs can help avoid trouble with the law.”

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While a vehicle is in operation, traffic laws require that certain equipment is properly installed and functioning correctly, including brakes, headlights, turn signals, mirrors, windshields and safety belts, to name a few.

The Car Care Council recommends that drivers address these repairs right away as they present public safety concerns that can earn drivers a traffic ticket on top of a repair bill.

  • Non-functioning turn signals and headlights or taillights that are cracked or broken. Most states require vehicles to have functioning turn signals as well as two functioning headlights and taillights. Taillights must illuminate red; if a taillight is cracked, it can give off a white light, which is also typically a traffic violation.
  • Cracked windshield. If a windshield is cracked, discolored or tinted in a way that obstructs vision, drivers may get ticketed and fined. In some states, vehicle modifications, such as tinted windows, are prohibited.
  • License plates are unreadable. If the license plate light is out or if the plate is otherwise unreadable, drivers may be pulled over. In some states this includes clear or tinted plastic license plate covers.
  • Loud exhaust system. A defective exhaust system that is too loud, either because it has been modified or because it needs repairs, can be cause for a ticket. What is considered loud depends on the state.

These repairs and/or maintenance items can be more frustrating that most not because of the expense involved, either related to the cost of the repair or the citation issued, but because often it’s simply a matter of taking the time to really look at your vehicle or clean it.

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Some states require annual inspections of vehicles for emissions as well as roadworthiness. Preparation for those is an excellent way of ensuring a vehicle is operating in top form and avoiding a roadside meet-and-greet with local law enforcement.

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