How To: Stop Running Over Plastic Bags! And More Small Tips for Keeping Your Car Running Smoothly

Stop Running Over Plastic Bags! And More Small Tips for Keeping Your Car Running Smoothly

Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That's more than 1,200 bags per U.S. resident and more than 54 times the number of people who live on the planet. That's why here in Santa Monica, thanks to a city-wide plastic bag ban, you won't find a plastic bag at any of the major retail stores.

Since plastic bags do not biodegrade, it can take anywhere between 500 and 1,000 years for your grocery bag to break down through photodegradation. So, those plastic bags floating around by the road are going to be there for a while.

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Plastic bags are not only dangerous to wildlife, killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals per year, and the environment, depleting resources like oil and trees—but also to your car.

When you're driving down the freeway and you roll over that plastic bag floating between the lanes, you could be in for a huge and costly surprise if it gets caught somewhere inside your car.

As pointed out by a professional mechanic on Reddit, a plastic bag can get sucked into the drive belt or exhaust system, causing major mechanical issues and sometimes even fire. If it melts to your exhaust pipe, it can be pretty tricky to get off, and cause your car to smell like burning plastic for weeks.

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So, next time you see a supposedly harmless plastic bag in the road, do your best to safely avoid it. And if you do happen to drive over one, always check your rearview mirror to see if it actually passed under your car. If you don't see anything in the mirror, pull over (when safe) and check underneath your vehicle.

No matter how beautiful Wes Bentley from American Beauty thinks they are, plastic bags are pretty shitty.

Plastic bags aren't the only thing that can cause unforeseen damage to your car, either. Neglecting seemingly-small maintenance tasks can really take a toll on your car's overall performance and lifespan. Here are some basic things you can do to keep your car running smoothly and avoid costly and unnecessary repairs.

Change Your Oil

I know how annoying it can be to change your oil every three or five thousand miles, but that minor inconvenience will keep your engine healthy.

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Plus, it allows a mechanic to see what's going on under the hood and underneath your car every few months, and they can notify you of anything that could cause you problems if left unchecked.

Mind the Lights

That check engine light is so easy to ignore, and I'm just as guilty of it as anyone else. But while you probably think you're saving money by not taking it in, the longer you let a service light go unchecked, the more likely you're increasing the cost of any repair that needs to be done.

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The check engine symbol is pretty self explanatory, but some of the others aren't as easy to figure out if you don't know much about cars. If you're unfamiliar with them, check out this simple guide to what all the lights mean and how you might be able to solve the problems on your own.

Check Your Tires

Probably the simplest thing you can do to avoid unwanted damage to your car is to make sure your tires aren't under- or overinflated. Plus, keeping your tires filled correctly can add a couple miles per gallon to your car.

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Check the owner's manual or the inside of your car door for the correct pressure for your tires.

Air Filter

Change your air filter. Most technicians will check your filter when you come into the shop for an oil change. If they say you should change it out, go ahead and do it.

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How often you have to change your filter depends a lot on how much you drive and what type of climate you live in. If you're in an area with a lot of dust or pollution, you'll need much more frequent changes.

These are just a few simple things you can do to keep your car out of the shop and running better. If you have any more quick and simple tips, let us know in the comments section.

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Photos by Nigel Cox, rdsmith3/ADVrider, kevinkarnsfamily, Kevin Vance, Future Tires, Pim Stouten, Ban the Bag

1 Comment

The most likely thing is for the bag to get sucked up to where is covers part of the radiator, possibly causing your car to overheat and potentially thousands of dollars in damage.

If you can do so safely when you see you;re about to run over a bag and can't avoid that look in your mirror to see that it went under without getting caught somewhere. If you see the bag you don;' have a problem but if you don't it's not at all a bad idea to pull over ASAP and look underneath the vehicle as well as under the hood.

The other places a bag could be a problem as noted in the article is the belt or melt to the exhaust and if by chance your vehicle suddenly starts running terrible or stops, most likely it sucked into the engine air intake and covered most of the air filter.

I always try to look in the mirror and so fart the bags have always gone under no problem but that could be just luck and the fack I always have my foot in it.

It does seem that there are less bags on the roads these days and I don't live somewhere that has a plastic bag ban so hopeful;y that's a good sign.

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