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Breaking down is a huge hassle, and you can’t let your vehicle’s systems fail at the wrong time. When something goes wrong while you’re on the road, you may be putting yourself and others in danger. After all, there were nearly 36 thousand fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2020, and some of those collisions involved vehicle malfunctions. You want to enjoy a safe trip to your destination, so make sure to remember these 10 important things to check on your vehicle before your next ride.
Look at the Lights on Your Dashboard
The moment you put the key into the ignition, you should take a look at your dashboard. Is the “check engine” light on? Do you see any other bright or flashing lights? If you’re not sure what a light means, then you should check your owner’s manual. Of course, these lights don’t always turn on when they’re supposed to. Thus, the absence of lights on your dashboard shouldn’t be an indication that everything is perfectly fine with your car. If you really want to know what’s wrong with your vehicle, you should invest in the best OBD scanner you can find.
Check Out the Tires and Measure Their Pressure
Do any of your tires look flat? Do you notice any deformities, or are there any foreign objects sticking out of them? If your tires look strange or misshapen, they might be on the last legs, so you should replace them immediately. Even if your tires look full, you should check each tire’s pressure and add air if necessary. This will keep your alignment straight and prevent any long-term problems resulting from poor weight distribution.
Make Sure That You Have More Than Enough Gas
You know that you need enough fuel to get to your destination. However, your tank shouldn’t only have enough gas to get to your destination and back on a normal day. Traffic jams, detours, and other unpredictable circumstances can greatly lengthen your trip, so you want to be sure that you have more than enough gas to get around in case things suddenly change.
Take a Look at Your Oil
Your vehicle’s engine is delicate. Without enough gas, it will quickly overheat. Over time, this will damage your engine and make it unusable. These days, new cars aren’t very affordable, and a new engine isn’t too cheap either. Although you may have checked your oil recently, a leak may have formed since the last time you looked. Therefore, you must never forget to check your dipstick before taking your vehicle out for a spin. If you constantly need to add oil to your car, you should visit a mechanic as soon as possible to find out what’s wrong.
To check your engine’s oil, you must:
- Pop the hood.
- Locate the dipstick.
- Pull it out.
- Wipe the oil away from the end.
- Put it back in.
- Pull it out again.
- Check the level on the end of the dipstick.
- Add oil if necessary.
- Put the dipstick securely back in place.
Inspect the Battery
Pop your hood and take a quick look at the battery. Are there signs of corrosion? Is there any discoloration around the terminals? Some slight corrosion around the terminals will happen over time. All you need to do is unplug the battery and scrub the corroded material away with a wire brush. This will ensure that your battery doesn’t suddenly stop working while you’re driving down the highway. However, if the corrosion is extensive, you may need to replace your battery altogether.
Check Your Brakes
Before you take off, you should test your brakes to ensure they’re working properly. Do your brakes feel a little loose? Is your car not coming to a complete stop? If anything seems funny about your brakes, then you absolutely should not drive your vehicle until the issue is fixed. Unfortunately, car manufacturers sometimes install faulty brakes in their vehicles, and such defective components have been known to cause severe accidents. If you suspect that one of your vehicle’s components is defective, you need to check out this guide to find the best way to handle it.
Test Your Lights and Blinker
Although you may be heading out for a drive in the middle of the day, you never know when dark clouds or bad weather might roll in. Without functioning lights, other motorists may not be able to see you on the road, which could potentially put everyone in danger. To check your lights, you can simply turn them on and cycle through all the settings. Don’t forget to test your high beams and check each direction of your blinker.
Make Sure That You’ve Packed a Spare Tire
Your vehicle’s spare tire should be somewhere in your trunk or hoisted to the back of your car. If you can’t see it when you open the trunk, then you should check the floor of the trunk; it’s often hidden under a layer of fabric that matches your trunk’s upholstery. Make sure that your spare tire is in good condition. Otherwise, it won’t be much help in an emergency.
Honk Your Horn
Your horn is the best way to communicate with other drivers on the fly. You may not be able to alert other motorists of your presence or any nearby dangers if it doesn’t work. You simply need to honk it to ensure it’s in good condition, so this is a very easy precaution to take.
Examine and Test the Windshield Wipers
You don’t want to be caught in the rain without working wipers. Heavy rain can be completely blinding. Thus, damaged or non-functioning wipers can significantly affect your safety on the road. Not only should your wipers move smoothly at all speed settings, but the blades also shouldn’t have any physical wear or tear.
Always Keep Your Vehicle in Working Order
You and other motorists deserve a safe drive, and proper vehicle maintenance is a big part of that. Even a small car is still a relatively large machine that can cause a lot of damage if something goes wrong. Therefore, before your next drive, remember to check these 10 important things to minimize the risk of anything going wrong.