A well-maintained car is a pleasure to drive—and it's safer. Right?
Of course, it is essential to have a proper service and inspection regime with a service center. But there is also much you can do on your own to keep your vehicle in good working order.
Following are a few areas to pay attention to in order to maintain safety between garage visits.
Check the battery
Although you might associate a dead battery with an inability to start a car, modern vehicles are so dependent upon electronics that a sudden loss of power on the highway can make it difficult to keep full control of the vehicle. Make sure to keep the battery well-charged and that any minor electrical problems are attended to —they could be a symptom of something more serious.
Poor visibility through a dirty windshield is a large factor in many accidents. Check that the wiper blades are in good condition and not too worn and that your washer fluid reservoir is full.
Badly worn tires can be extremely dangerous. They should be thoroughly checked as part of your regular vehicle maintenance service. It is also a good idea to check them visually on occasion to make sure there is no damage which could lead to a blow-out. Of course, correct tire pressure should be maintained at all times to keep your car handling well. The tire pressure recommendation is located on each tire.
Check belts, hoses and seals
The rubber and plastic parts of the vehicle's cooling and fluid systems are vital for smooth operation. They are also sensitive to wear and tear, especially in regions which suffer extreme hot and cold temperatures. A fan belt breaking at 50mph on the freeway can be disastrous; regularly check all visible belts, hoses and seals for signs of cracking or fraying. Have them replaced when you see a problem.
Headlights, taillights, and turn signals
Every little bit of lighting on a vehicle is essential for safety. On reason is to ensure that your vehicle is visible to other drivers. Check to see that your car's exterior lights all work correctly. Have someone look for you, or have them sit in the driver’s seat and turn them on and off while you look. If a bulb needs to be replaced, you can easily do it yourself.
Although a full brake maintenance check should be done by qualified mechanics, you can keep an eye on brakes between services. Look for obvious signs of wear and tear, and be sure that brake fluid levels are maintained. If you feel any sluggishness in brake response when driving, or find that brake fluid needs to be replaced frequently, get a qualified opinion.
There's no substitute for professional servicing when it comes to keeping your car in safe working order. Staying on top of maintenance reduces risks of mechanically-caused accidents and cuts repair costs by spotting problems early.