Modern cars are wonders of technology, and the days when an enthusiastic amateur could strip and rebuild an auto are firmly in the past. However, there is still plenty that any car owner can do to help their vehicle run smoothly between visits to the repair shop, keeping you safer and more comfortable on the highway.
Today’s cars are highly computerized, and it’s essential that the vehicle’s electrical system is kept in good working order. A power failure at high speed can be extremely dangerous, especially if control relies on power steering and active braking systems. Make sure your battery is kept charged, and in oldercars, check that it’s still within its recommended working lifetime. Once or month or so, check that the connections are still in good condition, with no corrosion or loosening.
If your car seems to have repeated electrical issues such as regularly blown headlights or unreliable air conditioning, then book it in for a service at your local repair shop these could be signs of a more serious underlying problem with the electrical system.
Engine overheating is the most common cause of car breakdown, and while this type of problem isn’t immediately dangerous to a driver’s safety, being stuck by the side of the road awaiting rescue always carries a risk alongside the inconvenience.
Cooling system failures are so common because a lot of the parts involved are made out of flexible plastic or rubber rather than durable metal, and wear and tear is always a risk. Every few months, open the hood and take a look at all the visible belts, hoses, and connectors, checking them for signs of damage. If you see any, have the faulty parts replaced right away it’s usually quick and easy to do this, and it will cost far less than clearing up after a major failure.
Your headlights, taillights, and blinkers are all vital for safety, making it easier for you to see and be seen. Get into the habit of checking that all your external lights are working, especially before a long trip or a nighttime journey. Also, pay extra attention to keeping your lights clean and free from debris so that their lighting power isn’t degraded.
Even in perfect daylight, safe driving depends on good visibility, so make sure your windshield wipers are working properly and aren’t too worn down or damaged. Check that your washer reservoir is topped up, and that you carry spare water in case your windshield needs an emergency clean.
Also check your windshield for any chips or cracks and have them fixed immediately, no matter how small the problem seems. Even tiny flaws can lead to a sudden shattering without warning, which could be disastrous if you’re driving at speed in heavy traffic.
Worn tires should be replaced without delay, or you could experience dangerously poor handling or even blow-outs.
Check that each tire has at least one-sixteenth of an inch of tread and that the tread depth is consistent on each tire. Also, make a habit of checking your tire pressure whenever you fill up with gas, as incorrectly inflated tires can make your vehicle much more diflicult to drive safely.
Lastly, your car’s brakes are a vital part of safety and should be regularly checked out by a mechanic as part of normal servicing. However, it pays to watch out for early warning signs such as poor braking response, uneven handling, and strange noises or vibration when applying the brakes. If any of these issues appear, arrange a visit to the repair shop to make sure all is well.
Also, check your brake fluid levels as often as your auto handbook recommends. If you find you often need to top the fluid up, this could be a sign of a leak which could increase braking distances, so have this checked out.
Of course, the best way to keep your car in good, safe driving condition is to have it regularly serviced as often as recommended for your particular type of vehicle. However, paying attention to these easily done maintenance checks can help you spot problems in the early stages, reducing the chances of a dangerous breakdown while on the road.