When it comes to car safety, most people think about the rules of the road. Certainly, driving defensively and well matter because they keep everyone more secure. However, car safety goes beyond just stopping at red lights and yielding in merge lanes. True car safety involves taking care of your vehicle.
Unfortunately, estimates indicate that around $60 billion isn’t spent on necessary vehicle repairs and upkeep. And when your car, truck, or SUV isn’t in tiptop shape, it puts everyone’s health and wellness at risk from drivers to passengers to pedestrians.
If you haven’t already done any of the following vehicle maintenance tasks this season, you’re not too late. Jump right in and make car safety a number one priority by engaging in the following responsibilities on a regular basis.
Change the Oil
When your car contains the right amount and type of clean oil, the engine remains lubricated. Be sure that you’re not just putting new oil in, though. You also need to take filthy oil out. If you don’t know how to change the oil yourself, you can always take your vehicle into a quick-service station. In about 30 minutes or so, you’ll be able to chalk off an oil change that will last you another 3,000 miles or so. Just be wary if you’re doing work on your own engine — dangerously hot spatter can reach up to 35 feet away from the welding site if you need to do something like that. Protective gear is a must.
Check and Rotate the Tires
Did you know that nearly nine out of 10 drivers think nothing of cruising at 10 miles above the speed limit, or even more? Speeding is the antithesis of car safety. It’s also a good way to wear down your tires quickly. The faster you go when you’re driving on the highway, the sooner you’ll need new tires. Even if you’re not a speed demon, be sure to check your tire pressure and have your tires rotated about every 8,000 miles.
Replace Windshield Wipers
Have you noticed that it’s getting harder to recognize realtor signs at the side of the road or be able to read street names on signs when you’re driving in the rain? The problem could be your windshield wipers. Over time, windshield wipers start to wear down, making it tough for you to see clearly during any kind of weather event. The last thing you want is to drive practically blind just because it’s storming outside. As soon as your wipers start to show signs of wear, get and install new ones.
Check Your Battery Performance
Eventually, car batteries will start to give out. Be certain that you check your battery regularly and look for any signs of problems, such as having to turn the engine over repeatedly before being able to make the car turn on. You certainly don’t want the experience of being in a dark parking lot at night only to find out your battery’s dead. That’s more than a car safety issue: It’s a personal safety issue. So take your vehicle to an auto technician and have your battery replaced if you suspect it’s wearing out. Oh, and always have jumper cables in your trunk, just in case.
Keep Your Bulbs Working
Most people don’t check the bulbs in their vehicles often enough. But you should be testing yours at least once a week. Turn on your headlights and get out of the car to see if they’re working. Then, have someone tell you if the tail lights and brake lights work. You should also examine your turning signals. Ideally, you want all the lights to be in working order. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see in the dark outside when you’re driving.
Repair Your Leaking Sunroof
Are you lucky enough to have a cool sunroof? No doubt you get plenty of use, especially on beautiful days. Just make sure that it seals properly and doesn’t start to leak. A leaky sunroof can make sitting down in your car more torture than anything else. A leaking sunroof can be a car safety nightmare because it causes moisture issues on the inside of your vehicle. Plus, it may one day not fully close. As soon as you see a problem with the sunroof not sealing, call a mechanic instead of allowing the issue to get worse.
Replace Your Air Filters
Did you know you’re statistically likely to spend around 17 hours annually just looking for parking? Make certain that the air you’re breathing during those excursions isn’t stale by replacing your air filters. Clogged filters make your vehicle’s systems work harder. Plus, dirty filters send grime and dust into the air. If you have allergies to dirt, you definitely want to switch out your air filters. If you go to a place that handles oil changes, you can usually ask them to replace your air filters at the same time for an additional fee.
Clean the Interior
Nothing’s better than having a clean, good-smelling car interior, especially if you’re a mom or dad. Hey, parenting is hard enough! Why worry about your kids sitting on filthy seats or breathing in nasty air? Do yourself a favor and take time this week to clean the inside of your car. A little detail work may make your older vehicle feel like new again. And who knows? You might get as much relaxation out of spending time cleaning your car as you would in a full-blown yoga meditation session!
Check the Seatbelts
It’s no secret among car safety advocates: Seatbelts save lives. In addition to always insisting that everyone use their seat belts in the front, make sure they’re used by passengers seated in the back. This is especially true of kids, who need to travel in the back until they are 13 years old. Test your seatbelts regularly and make sure they’re a good fit.
Replace Floor Mats
Eventually, your vehicle’s floor mats are going to get so yucky or worn that they’ll be more of a hindrance than a help. At that point, just go out and buy some new ones. Floor mats help you keep a more spotless interior, and they’re easy to remove and clean.
Remember: Car safety isn’t just for when you’re driving. It’s a vital part of car maintenance.