Whether you’re commuting a short distance to work or planning a big road trip, proper car maintenance is absolutely vital. Not only will a well-maintained car deliver you swiftly to your destination, but proper car care is also critical to your safety.
Before you hit the road, check on these 4 car maintenance concerns. With everything in working order, you can depart with total peace of mind.
Fill Up On Fluids
There are a lot of different fluids under the hood of your car and if any of them are too low or dirty, you can quickly run into trouble. Before you leave, pop the hood and check your coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, etc. Savage Globak at Pines Ford recommends checking these fluids at least once a week. You’ll also want to make sure there aren’t any leaks or cracks in the hoses, as this can cause your fluid levels to plummet unexpectedly.
Don’t forget to stock up on extra bottles of these products if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time. You don’t want to be the driver pulled over on the shoulder with a smoking engine because you ran out of coolant or didn’t change your oil.
Properly functioning headlights and brake lights are critical to safe driving, and while most drivers know if their headlights are working properly, brake light problems can be harder to spot. To check your brake lights, turn on the car and put something heavy on the brakes while you get out and check them. Or recruit a friend to take a look while you sit inside.
Once you know they’re working, make sure to always employ proper light use while driving. Nighttime visibility is critical to safety and is especially important if you’re driving a smaller vehicle – 90 percent of truck accidents in 2013 involved a smaller vehicle, bicyclists, and pedestrians – resulting in 105 deaths. Using your lights correctly can protect you from such incidents.
Wipe It Clean
Many drivers don’t realize how often they should be replacing their windshield wiper blades. Rather, most overlook poorly functioning blades, thinking they just need a trip through the car wash or some extra wiper fluid.
Wiper blades are inexpensive, so don’t skimp on this simple maintenance concern. Driving is far more dangerous when you have low visibility. By replacing your wipers regularly, you can keep a clear line of vision.
Tires On Track
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your tires if they aren’t cared for properly, including unevenly worn treads and alignment issues. Before you head out, start by checking your tire treads – compare your tires to each other, looking for any significant difference between the parallel wheels. If the treads are worn down in different ways, it may mean that your tires are improperly aligned or unequally weighted.
Did you know that your wheels can become misaligned due to minor incidents like hitting big bumps or potholes? This is a common problem and can cause your car to drag to one side, even when you’re steering straight. Don’t misattribute this drag to the quirks of your car – hit the mechanic and have them check out your alignment.
Once you’ve checked all your major maintenance boxes, you’ll be ready to head off, but be sure to take all necessary tools for minor repairs with you. In addition to engine fluids, you should have a basic toolbox, a spare tire, a gas canister, and flares in case you encounter a problem at night.
For safety’s sake, the most important thing you can do is take a Boy Scout-style approach to driving – always be prepared.