Quarterly Vehicle Safety Checklist – 4 Keys

Most American residents experience some kind of change in seasons each year…even in California and Florida.  Seasons can be a helpful cue for reminding drivers to run through a quick safety checklist…to help avoid accidents and unnecessarily large future repair bills.  Use the old James Taylor song to help remind yourself (it works!…Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) that using this handy checklist can make you and your vehicle better, safer “friends”.  Car care tips can be tedious and boring, but this four point list will help keep your vehicle looking and running in tip-top shape.

  • Wiper Blades – Inspect & Replace them regularly.  Everything can wear out and break.  Wiper blade rubber usually becomes dry and brittle during the Summer…especially if they’ve already been through only one rainy season.  You can’t keep your eyes on the road of you can’t see through your windwhield.
  • Tires – Pressure & Tread Depth – Tires can easily lose one (1) pound of air pressure each month…even if your car just sits in the driveway.  Under-inflated tires translates into lower gas mileage and poor handling, and can suffer unnoticeable damage that compromises car performance and safety.  A monthly check on tires is highly warranted.  Don’t just check it randomly or yearly…it’s important to do it monthly.   A tread depth check is easily done by looking inside the grooves on the tire.  At every six to 10 inches, a raised wear bar will appear, and if the tread is worn to the same height as the bar, it’s time to replace the tire.  It’s important to several spots on each tire…because wear is often even.  Time for new tires?  RTFM (read the friendly [owner’s] manual)  to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation for size and type of tires.
  • Brakes –  Nothing is more critical to vehicle safety than properly functioning brakes.  Disc brakes on newer vehicles are constantly assaulted by dirt, moisture and road salt.  Pay attention to how your brakes respond. Does your vehicle stop evenly …or kind of pull to one side?  Any noises?  Some noises can be harmless and not uncommon.  But loud or constant noises when you apply the brakes should be checked out professionally.
  • Battery – Verify its Strength…don’t assume all is well with the car battery just because your vehicle starts.  That next turn of the key may be your unexpected tipping point.  If you’re comfortable checking your own battery…great!  Usually it’s best have an auto care & repair professional do it for you.

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Winterize Your Car for Safety

Winter weather can be your car’s worst enemy.  The obvious wet and slippery conditions produced by rain, sleet and snow make the roadways more treacherous…especially at night.  But colder temperatures also make it challenging for your vehicle’s engine to run normally.  Potholes take their toll on tires, wheels and suspension systems.  Salt and gravel grind away at your car’s body and paint.  Two particular aspects of your vehicle that are especially vulnerable to Winter are its battery and antifreeze.  If your battery is anywhere between middle aged and senior citizen status, its worth ten extra minutes at your local gas station or oil change center to have it checked out.  The reason for checking your antifreeze is a bit more obvious. Engines don’t like frozen radiator fluid…and the slushy results can be highly damaging and costly.

As always, there are preventive measures you can take to help your vehicle combat Winter stress.  In addition to battery and antifreeze, here are a few more important points to look at when giving your car a Winter checkup:

  1. Tires & Tire Pressure – if you live in a moderate to heavy snow geography…Winter tires aren’t magical, but their added traction offers safety that can’t be ignored
  2. Belts, Hoses, Wipers & Fluid – they lead longer lives in newer cars, but belts & hoses aren’t immortal. Also, mix de-icer into your fluid reservoir.
  3. Emergency Car Kit – if you’re a DIYer, contents should include the obvious like a first-aid kit, flashlight & flares.  But many convenient pre-made kits can be easily purchased too.

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