There are plenty of things that influence your ability to stay safe on the road. Being awake, alert, and undistracted is one thing, but those things can only help you so much if your car isn’t up to date with its own safety concerns. Believe it or not, your routine maintenance can do far more than just keeping your car running smoothly and reliably—it can also make a huge difference when it comes to avoiding an accident. So the next time that “maintenance required” light turns on or your odometer trips past that mileage threshold, remember that getting your maintenance done may actually save your life in the future.
To help you take better care of your car, here are five general maintenance tips which you can follow as a vehicle owner that can help you stay safe while driving.
Check Your Tires
Your tires are arguably the single most important part of your car’s normal operation. Your tires keep you on the road and moving forward, turning safely around corners, and even stick to the road to help you stop when you hit the brakes. As such, your tires need to be the right size, in good condition, and have a suitable amount of tread in order for your car to be as safe as possible. However, even the strongest tires will wear out over time, and that means eventually they’ll need to be replaced.
Worn-out tires not only don’t grip the road as well as they would otherwise, but they’re exponentially more dangerous to drive on in the rain. These tires are far more prone to hydroplaning, which can cause you to lose all control. Every time you have your oil changed, you should rotate your tires and check their wear levels. When they reach a depth of 4/32 of an inch, then you should prepare to replace them as soon as possible.
Change Your Brakes
If your tires are arguably the most important part of your vehicle’s safety, then your brakes are just behind them in importance. Your brakes are responsible for bringing your car to a stop, whether it’s at a high speed or a slow, gradual stop. Most vehicles are now equipped with disc brakes, which use pads pressed against a metal rotor attached to your axle to bring your car to a stop. They’re efficient, durable, and particularly good at overcoming the immense amount of heat that brake pads can accumulate.
However, over time the pads and the rotors themselves will wear out. Even though they’re made from two extremely tough substances (aluminum and ceramic), the constant rubbing together will eventually cause them both to degrade and need replaced. You should have your brakes checked every other time you change your oil, and replace them when you hear your brakes start to squeal when you stop.
Change Your Oil
We’ve mentioned changing your oil a few times on this blog already, and it’s nonetheless an extremely important part of vehicle safety. Perhaps the most important reason for doing this is to keep your engine running smoothly—dirty oil allows for friction to build up, and built-up friction causes extra heat. Extra heat causes your engine to fail, and a failed engine can leave you stranded, or worse, potentially cause you to lose control of your car in the middle of traffic.
Refer to the owner’s manual on your vehicle for how often you should change your oil, what kind of oil you should use, and how much of it you’ll need to put in when you do. Most vehicles these days can go anywhere from 5,000 miles or more between oil changes, and some cars genuinely don’t need to have their oil changed for as much as 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
Keep Your Emergency Kit Stocked
Every vehicle owner should carry an emergency kit with them. These small but immensely important boxes should have everything from first-aid supplies like band-aids and disinfectant wipes to an emergency blanket to even a few small snacks and an emergency road flare or two. You never know when something serious may happen and you find yourself suck on the side of the road. If this is the case, having these supplies can make the difference between being staying safe and secure or struggling to get by. These items are generally all available in many different places for just a few dollars, and it’s strongly advised you always keep this supply stocked. If you use something out of it, replace it as soon as possible.
Check Your Lights
Finally, when it comes to safety equipment, lights are right up there at the top. If you plan on driving at night, you need to have lights. However, they also notify other drivers of your driving behavior as well, including stopping, changing lanes, backing up, and so much more. Periodically, have someone stand outside your car while you turn on all of your lights: your headlights, your tail lights, your brake lights, your right and left blinkers, your fog lights, and any other safety lights you may have equipped. Make sure they’re all in working condition, and change out any bulbs that may be dead.If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call the Martin County car accident lawyers at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 to request a case evaluation as soon as possible.