Having a car is one of the most essential tools you could own for your day-to-day routine. Having a car means that you’re easily able to get to and from work or school on your own time, able to run errands as needed, and able to go out and have fun according to your own schedule. It’s one of the best methods out there to get you where you need to go, and it allows you to do so without having to rely on someone else to get you there such as with a carpool or using public transportation. Having a car provides a lot of personal opportunities, which is why it’s so important to keep your car in the best condition possible. While your car typically rides smoothly, taking certain steps to stay road safe can help protect your vehicle – and you. Thus, here are five car care safety tips to keep your ride in road-safe condition.
Know Your Signals
Car dashboards can have over 50 different symbols to give you indicators of what is going on with your vehicle. Sure, you likely don’t know what they all mean off the top of your head, in fact, many people likely don’t know what they mean unless they’re an expert on their car, but it’s crucial to know the important ones so you’re aware that something’s wrong the second the light pops on. Ignoring issues with your car can easily lead to more major, often disastrous or expensive, problems should they go ignored for long enough.
Signals like low tire pressure, low gas, seatbelt issues, airbag issues, and oil change lights are very important for a safe drive. Most of these are self-explanatory as to what they mean, but you can still look through your car’s manual or search online if one comes on to see what it means so that you’re sure. But most importantly, don’t ignore these signals. As soon as you’re aware there’s a problem with the car, do what’s needed to get it fixed; whether that means getting more air in your tires, gassing up, or changing your oil.
Check Vital Systems
Along with getting problems fixed when your car makes you aware of them, it’s also important to keep your car’s internal systems up to date. That means going through routine maintenance in order to circumvent potentially catastrophic major issues. This includes having your brakes, shocks, and tires checked or even replaced if they’ve worn out. It also means getting your oil and oil filter changed regularly. If you notice any noises, no matter how minor, having your car’s vital system checked can find the root of the problem.
Keep Your Wheels in Shape
The tires on your car are the entire reason you’re able to move around freely on the road. They guide the path of the vehicle, carrying you where you want to go. Getting the wheel alignment fixed or even just checked is important to make sure everything is flowing smoothly and you’re able to drive safely. Usually, after about one or two years, the car’s wheels will be at least slightly out of line, so it’s important to keep this in mind when you take it in for maintenance. If your car seems to be driving crooked, you’re finding uneven wear on your tires, or the car makes odd noises such as noisy steering or squealing tires, you likely need a realignment. To ignore these issues means you could end up with some serious steering problems, and depending on how heavy of traffic you’re in this could be potentially deadly.
Carry an Emergency Kit
Thinking ahead to what you might need in case of an emergency, major or minor, is very important to staying safe on the road. Keeping essential objects in your vehicle will prepare you for issues that may arise on the road, especially if you run into problems in more rural or at the very least unfamiliar areas. These include a flat tire repair kit and spare tire, jumper cables, flashlight, water if your engine overheads, and a fire extinguisher.
These are only the bare minimum though. Emergency flares or some form of reflectors can alert people to your car’s presence should you run into a serious problem at night. Duct tape is a classic emergency method of fixing issues both big and small, and can keep you together long enough to get more professional help. Having some form of glass breaker could help you should your car ever become submerged, allowing you to get out of the car immediately; along with this you should have a seat belt cutter on hand should your seatbelt ever become the reason you can’t get out quickly.
You might also want to be prepared for more minor accidents that could happen if you’re just out and about. Keeping spare clothes in your car, extra toiletries, or extra shoes could come in handy when you least expect it. Wet wipes, wash rags, or water bottles can help take care of any spills or hygienic issues you could encounter, even if it’s something as simple as wanting clean hands before eating take-out in your car.
Probably the most important thing you can do to be safe on the road is to stay alert and avoid distractions while driving or just in the car in general. This means putting your phone away or setting all your notifications to be sent through your car’s Bluetooth. If you need your phone for navigation, a cradle to keep it high up where you can see the road and the map easily is important. Staying alert also means taking breaks on long trips to get out and stretch your legs or rest to avoid fatigue. If your car has features such as lane assist, cruise control, or the ability to make calls, take advantage of them to ensure your driving remains at its peak for how long you end up being on the road.
Remain aware of your surroundings, take note of any suspicious cars or people around you, and keep an eye out. Along with always keeping your car locked and your valuables hidden whether or not you’re in the car at the time, it’s best to be aware of the neighborhood you’re in or where you are on the road. That way if you know you’re not in a safe area you’re more alert, and should you need help you know immediately where to direct it.
These are just a few of the ways to make sure your car and everyone inside stay safe on the road. It applies to everyone at all times, whether that be on a road trip or just during your regular routine. Your car should be a pleasure to drive, keeping it safe helps make that happen and ensures it will happen for as long as you own your car. Thus, always be aware of your surroundings, make sure your car is in optimal condition both with regular maintenance and being aware of what any dashboard alerts could mean, and carry the right supplies so you’re prepared for any emergency that might come your way while you’re away from home or any professionals that might have the know-how to fix the problem.