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Tag: car maintenance

Photo shows the back of a hatchback car open, showing a fully-packed interior.
Before you pack up the car, take the time to do some regular maintenance checks.

Are you planning a weekend getaway, or visiting your family for the holidays? It can get just to load the car up with the family just to go to the movies, let alone a long drive. And when you have a long drive, there are other concerns to address before hitting the road other than music and snacks.

This list is meant to cover all the ordinary checks you’ll want to do before an extended drive, to make sure you and your family are driving safe.

1. Check your dash and lights

Make sure there aren’t any warning lights on your dashboard. If there are, take your car to a mechanic to will check the on-board diagnostics with a scanning device. It works like a computer and reads if there’s anything wrong with the vehicle. This step will help you find out the causes behind the warning lights and how they can be fixed.

Check your headlights too. Turn them on and off to make sure they are all working. If not, head to your local auto parts store to buy some new bulbs. Being visible to other drivers is a key safety issue, and drivers who use their headlights all day have a decreased risk of being in an accident.

Also, if you haven’t driven the car recently, take it for a test drive on the freeway, listen for noises, feel for shakes, and watch for trouble signs in the gauges.

2. Tire Pressure and Tread

One hand holds a pressure dial while the other holds the other end into a car tire.
Tires are a major safety concern. Check tire pressure and tread before taking an extended drive.

Look in your car’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. People often think the numbers on the tire is pressure, but it’s the maximum amount the tire can hold. Overfilling the tire combined with hot weather can lead to a blowout.

Be sure to add the correct amount of air to your tires. Inspect the tread on your tires. Balding tires can increase your chance of a blowout and reduce traction.

3. Engine Oil and Coolant

Check your oil levels and the mileage you’re due for an oil change. If you’re nearing your mileage suggested for an oil change, go ahead and do so before you hit the road.

So be sure to check your coolant levels as well. You don’t want to be stranded with an overheated car.

4. Brakes 

Make sure to check your brake pads. If they squeal, or its been over 50,000 miles since you replaced your brakes, it’s a safe bet to just replace them before you get on the road.

You can also do a little at-home test looking at your brake pads through the spaces between the wheel’s spokes. The outside pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. There should be at least 1/4 inch of pad if you see less than that you may want to go ahead and replace them.

5. Transmission

A transmission is what changes the gear of an engine, and both your transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant. Check them before you get on the road. Look to your owner’s manual for guidance or take it to a local transmission shop for a quick refill.

6. Belt 

Most of cars have features that can’t run without the belt, like the alternator, water pump, power steering and even the air conditioning. You can easily check the belts by turning them sideways and making sure there are no rips or tears or by taking your car to a local auto parts store.

Get your belts changed out if the auto parts store recommends it. If you’re vehicle savvy, watch this video below on how to change them at home.

 

7. Battery

While it can be a bit difficult to spot if you have a good or bad battery, there are steps you can take to make sure there is a strong connection to the car’s electrical system.

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda in a clean container, use a toothbrush to clean your battery then wipe the mixture away.

8. Documents

Make sure your documents are up-to-date. Carry your insurance papers, registration, driver’s license, and any other vehicle information that might be helpful during your trip.

9. Emergency Kit

Image shows emergency kit items in front of yellow background, including a water bottle, gloves, and jumper cables.
An emergency kit can easily help you in what might be an otherwise dire situation. (Photo credit: Geico.com)

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Have an emergency kit with some essential items for if you get stranded or have car trouble.

A few things to think about include a few blankets, a bright flashlight, jumper cables, and some basic tools like a screwdriver or wrench.

Family road trips are a great way to bond and see parts of the world you’ve never been before. Make sure your car is ready to safely get you there and back. To find other great road trip tips follow us on Instagram.

Picture shows a dark road with only the pavement, reflective lane stripes and curve markers.
Limited visibility also comes with a shorter reaction time to prevent a crash. Avoid driving in the dark, if possible.

You’re driving home and tired. To keep yourself awake, you’re jamming to your favorite rock station, but not really paying attention to your surroundings.

All of a sudden, a deer pops out of nowhere, and you to swerve around him.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is important for drivers to revisit night driving safety and avoid accidents in situations like this. Did you know that along with the increase of drunk drivers, the chances of an accident are three times greater at night than the daytime? Whether it is rush hour or a clear road, driving safely takes a lot more effort at night.

Check out these tips to help you drive through the night safely.

Graphic explains statistics of night driving.
We can all take steps to be safer drivers, especially at night.

1. Headlight control

Turn your headlights on at least an hour before sunset. Not only does it make it easier to see in the dark, it also helps other drivers see you in the dark. Be considerate to other drivers around you and avoid using your high beams when approaching or behind another vehicle.

2. Clean headlights

A before and after photo of a foggy-looking headlight and a clear one.
Cleaning your headlights regularly can make a big difference in night visibility.

Always keep your headlights clean. Make sure they work properly; otherwise replace the bulbs as soon as possible. Without working, clear headlights, there is a greater risk of getting into an accident as someone might not see you on the road.

3. Avoid distractions

It is already difficult to see in the dark, so we want to limit as many distractions as possible. Stay off your phone and pay attention to the road and surroundings. Avoid listening to loud music to hear the approaching traffic. Since it is harder to see at night, we must rely on our other senses for a safer drive.

4. Speed control

Road sign on the side of a flat Texas road shows a normal speed limit of 80mph and a night limit of 65mph.
Slowing down at night gives you more time to react to dangers on the road.

It is harder to see where we are driving in the night than the daytime, especially in the areas without street lamps. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and avoid getting too close! Slowing down will also give you a better chance of stopping safely if a deer runs onto the road.

5. Stay up, be alert!

Continuously check all mirrors when driving for blind spots and any movements. Not only is it hard to see other motorists, it’s as difficult to see animals on the road. Avoid eating a heavy meal before driving to avoid drowsiness, and stay hydrated. If you need to take a break from driving, stop by a hospital. This is a safe area for a stop.

6. Beat the darkness

Try to leave earlier than later. When it is lighter, we are more awake and attentive to our surroundings than when we drive at night. Our vision is not compromised, and we avoid the greater risks of night driving. This will accommodate the possibility of city traffic and slow-downs as well, which may set us back to arriving several hours after dark.

We all have scary stories of driving at night. These tips can help avoid future situations and keep you safe. For more driving tips and car care, follow us on Twitter @ammcollisionctr.

A bald, torn-up tire sits on a rusty vehicle.
Maintaining tires can prevent accidents on the road.

Tire quality is a serious safety issue. In 2015, there were nearly 70 traffic deaths in Texas related to tire issues. Maintaining tires and preventing a blowout will help drivers avoid serious collisions and a trip to the auto body shop.

Every car owner should take a few routine steps to check and maintain the quality of the tires on a vehicle.

Maintain air pressure

Expert recommend that you check your air pressure at least once a month, and always before a long road trip. If you own a vehicle that was made within the past ten to 15 years, it likely has tire monitors that alert the driver if a tire has low air pressure, but it is best to manually check the air pressure to see exactly how the air pressure is in the tire.

The recommended air pressure can be found on the tire, the inside of the door frame, or in your owner’s manual. Under-inflated tires can lead to tire damage, but over-inflated tires can lead to a blowout.

Measure tire tread

Good tread is necessary for traction and to maintain the durability of a tire. When tires look smooth, they need to be replaced.

A simple way to measure the tread on a tire is to insert a quarter with George Washington’s head facing down into the tread. If the top of his head shows, the tire is worn and should be replaced.

Having tires rotated regularly helps them wear more evenly and not as quickly.

Alignment and balance tires

Maintaining proper alignment and balance on a vehicle can prevent a tire from wearing excessively and prevent a blowout.

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