Car Care 101: Tips to Keep You Safe
Car care isn’t just about longevity or keeping your ride looking its best. In fact, feeling a little mechanical sympathy for your vehicle goes a long way toward your own safety, too.
Regularly Cleaning Your Vehicle
Have you ever sat down in a friend’s car and been a little afraid to touch anything because it’s messy? Or have you ever borrowed a car from a family member, put your hands on the wheel, and been grossed out because of how dirty it feels?
Cleanliness goes a long way toward safety. If a car’s interior is squared away, it makes a big difference. If there are a bunch of empty bottles and cups all over the floor, imagine what a distraction they could be if you ever had to avoid a sudden road hazard, and they all go flying.
Regularly cleaning your vehicle’s interior isn’t just good maintenance; it keeps you safer.
And the same goes for keeping a shine on the exterior, too. Dirty windows make it hard to see, plus they tend to fog up a lot more quickly and more drastically than clean windows.
Oil is the lifeblood of any motor vehicle. If it’s dirty, or if the level is low, the engine’s moving parts won’t get the lubrication they need. Just to give you an idea of how important your engine’s oil is, if you were to drain it completely and try to run the engine without it, it would be toast in about 30 seconds.
Since it’s so important, it makes sense to keep an eye on it. When you check your oil, first make sure that the car is sitting on level ground. This is important because if it’s on an incline, all of the oil in the oil pan will flow to one side and give a false reading on the dipstick.
One of the best places to find level ground is at a gas station, which is why it’s a great idea to pop the hood and check the oil level while you’re waiting for the fuel tank to fill.
Make sure that the engine has not been running for about one minute so that all of the oil has a chance to drain down into the oil pan.
Make sure you have a rag or cloth in your hand so that you can wipe the dipstick clean when you pull it the first time. This cleans away any excess from when the engine was running. Check the level the second time you pull the dipstick, and ensure that it’s within the safe zone indicated by the manufacturer’s markings.
It’s also a good idea to bring the dipstick into direct sunlight while you’re checking it. If the oil seems to have glitter suspended in it, it could be a sign that your engine is having trouble. It could mean an internal bearing or other moving part is beginning to fail.
If that’s the case, talk to your mechanic soon. You don’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road if you can help it.
A tune-up used to mean getting a carburetor adjustment and installing now-obsolete parts like a distributor cap and rotor. Since today’s cars feature all-digital, coil-on-plug ignition, a tune-up is more of a mechanic’s safety check or a digital diagnostic tool that checks the computer for error codes.
Most of what needs to be done on today’s cars and trucks is simply a change of plugs and plug wires at about 100,000 miles.
First Aid Supplies
Having done all this, you’ll also want to ensure that your vehicle is fully stocked with a full complement of emergency supplies. Keeping water, blankets, and a first aid kit in the vehicle and regularly checking these supplies to make sure they’re not expired or used up is a great idea. It could even save a life. And that life could even be your own.
Cleanliness Means Safety
Did you ever notice that your vehicle seems to run and drive better when it’s clean? That just-leaving-the-carwash feeling may have more truth to it than you know. A clean car definitely allows you to focus more on the task at hand when you’re behind the wheel.
An alert driver is a safe one, so it pays to go the extra mile and keep it clean. It’ll pay off not just in more miles but safer miles.