The following post is from Kristen of Drawn2BCreative.
Not everybody is a car expert, but almost all of us use cars in our everyday lives. Here are some important things you should check to keep your car safe for you and your children. You don’t need to be a car expert to follow these 5 quick tips.
Brakes are arguably the most important safety system on your car. Any brake issue should be fixed as soon as possible. If your brakes feel spongy or soft at the pedal, you likely have air in the brake lines, or a faulty brake hose. This can cause poor brake performance and erratic pulling to the left or right during a panic stop.
If your brakes pull to the right or left, you can also have a seized caliper, which can cause a loss of braking performance and even overheated brakes and a fire! Make sure your car can stop when it needs to.
Are Your Tires Safe?
Tires are extremely important. At 80 MPH, your tire is spinning at approximately 1,120 RPM. You do not want a tire to come apart at that speed.
Even if getting a flat doesn’t cause you to crash, you don’t want to be changing a tire on the side of the road with your kids strapped into the car.
Check your tread depth on each of your tires, as they can wear at different rates. Your tires are manufactured with “wear bars,” and your tread should be at least as deep as them.
Make sure to check both the inside and outside edge of the tread, since excessive wear on the inside edge frequently goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
How old are your tires? Tire rubber degrades over time, and a tire over 7 years old should be replaced. You can check your tire’s age by looking up a manufacturer’s code on the sidewall and then finding information on the code on the internet.
Make sure you inflate your tires to your vehicle manufactures recommended tire pressure.
Most leaks are more of a reliability concern than a safety concern, with one exception. Do you smell gas when you stand near your vehicle, or while the vehicle is idling? Even a faint gas smell indicates a leak and likely a flammable environment. If you have a gas leak, have it fixed as soon as possible!
Check Engine Light.
A check engine light is one of the most commonly ignored warning signs in a car. This is because the light can often be on with no noticeable impact to how the vehicle drives. The severity of the problem can vary from trivial issues like a loose gas cap to more severe problems like low oil level.
You can have your check engine light code read for free at many automotive parts suppliers, such as Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, O’ Reilly’s, and Napa. They can tell you what the code number is, and will often give you a short description as well. You can look that code up on Google to find more details.
One thing remains constant: don’t ignore a check engine light without knowing what it is trying to tell you. Otherwise, you could be left stranded or walking down the side of the road for help later.
Preparing for the Conditions
Weather and circumstances are often unpredictable. If you are traveling on a long trip, or through areas with low population density or poor cell phone signal, make sure you prepare appropriately. This is especially true in the winter time.
If you travel in the winter, especially with small children, make sure you plan for the worst by packing warm clothes, water, and snacks. Make sure you always have important medications with you, such as heart medicine or allergy medicine on any long trip or through remote areas. A car can break down at any time, so plan ahead and bring the basics with you.
If you enjoyed this post, that’s because it was written by my husband, Tim Rabideau. An engineer by day and a “Car Guy” by night. He has put some of his automotive knowledge down in his newly published book, Troubleshooting with your Senses.
This is an excellent resource for everyday drivers, like you. Educating yourself about your car is great idea, as you likely will never look back and think “I knew too much about my car’s safety.”
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