Although there has been a steady decline in motor vehicle fatalities over the past few years, it’s estimated that 38,800 people lost their lives in automobile accidents in 2019.
Given the sheer number of lives lost each year, it’s critical that all drivers adhere to motor vehicle safety. Of course, simply staying alert and abiding by the rules of the road can help prevent accidents.
But also, car maintenance and safety go hand in hand. If you want to ensure that your car is in top working order and not putting you at greater risk of an accident, these seven maintenance tips can go a long way.
1. Make sure your airbag is safe
A defective airbag can cause as much harm as it’s designed to prevent. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that Takata had to recall millions of their defective airbag products after they were determined to be potentially deadly.
Make sure your airbag is working and that there is no current recall on your vehicle’s airbag.
Often, drivers will receive notices in the mail, informing them of a recall on their airbags. If you’ve received a similar notice, don’t ignore it. Rather, schedule your car to be serviced as soon as possible.
2. Inspect your tires
The condition of your tires plays a critical role in keeping you safe on the road.
If your tires are worn, they won’t grip the asphalt as well as they should—making your car particularly susceptible to slipping and sliding during rain, snow, and wet conditions. If any of your tires are underinflated, they will wear unevenly and be more susceptible to blowouts.
For these reasons, it’s wise to check the condition of your tires from time to time, but especially as seasons change or prior to a long trip.
3. Check your fluids
A poorly maintained car can quickly become an unsafe car. To maximize the life of your vehicle and confirm that it’s running safely at all times, be sure to check your transmission, oil, and brake fluids.
When these particular fluids are depleted, you’ll soon find that your car’s engine no longer performs at the level it once did.
Avoid a breakdown or a dangerous accident by keeping an eye on all of your car’s fluids. Replacing or adding to these liquids is simple enough that you can often do the job yourself!
4. Take a look at your wiper blades
You can often avoid a car accident by making sure you have maximum visibility when driving. In 2018, obscured vision accounted for 1,540 motor vehicle fatalities.
Wiper blades are designed to keep your front windshield clear during inclement weather; but when your blades begin to show signs of wear or you run out of wiper fluid, they no longer perform this job effectively.
Before a long trip, inspect your wiper blades to confirm that they are in good condition, and make sure your wiper fluid is topped off for the journey.
5. Clean your headlights
The headlight coverings on your vehicle collect dirt over time. Because this is a gradual process, you may not even notice the dimming effect it has on your headlights.
Unfortunately, many drivers don’t realize their headlights have dimmed significantly until it’s too late. Rather than letting your eyes adapt to the poor visibility, clean all of your headlight coverings periodically—and use a restoration kit if needed.
6. Replace old bulbs
Similarly, bulbs that are either dead or in the process of dying can lead to dangerous accidents—particularly at night, when functional headlights and brake lights are needed most.
Even if a dead bulb doesn’t cause you to have an accident, it may cause you to be pulled over and receive a ticket.
Bulbs are relatively inexpensive to replace and your local mechanic can likely replace them in minutes. Depending on the model of your car, you may even be able to change the bulbs yourself!
7. Test your brakes
Because your braking system consists of so many different components, failing to maintain them can lead to costly fixes down the road.
Not to mention, neglecting your brakes can ultimately result in brake failure while driving. Especially in adverse conditions, the repercussions of this could be lethal.
To start, make sure your brake pads are in good condition. If they are worn out, they can cause damage to your rotors. One of the surefire signs that your brakes aren’t in top condition is if your car makes scratching or screeching noises when you engage the brakes.
If you notice any unusual sounds, be sure to have your car inspected by a professional to avoid brake failure on the road.