Proper car maintenance is essential for two reasons. First, it helps to ensure that you have a healthy car. If you don’t take care of your car, it is more likely to break down, and end up costing you even more money in repairs. You don’t want to find yourself on the side of the highway one day on the way home from work because you forget to check something on your car.
The second reason is that it keeps you safe. When you don’t take regular care of your car, you are putting yourself, and others on the road, in danger. One day you’re driving along, it starts to pour, and you suddenly realize you forgot to check your windshield wiper blades. Now you’ve put yourself in harms way, along with any passengers you have and other drivers.
With this in mind, here are four things that everyone should check on their car before they get on the road again.
Check Your Tires
One of the easiest things you can do is check your tires. According to Conklin Motors, “The way your vehicle handles the road begins with the tires.” As time goes on, your tires start to wear down. If they wear down too much, they are unable to grip the road as well. The result could be you sliding off the road or experiencing a flat tire.
Take a minute to walk around the outside of your car and visually and physically inspect the tires. You’re looking for the amount of tread left on the tires. If it looks like the tires are starting to go smooth, it’s time to replace them. You may notice that some of your tires wear down faster than others – this is entirely normal. Consider having your tires frequently rotated to prolong their lives.
Test Your Brakes
Next, you’ll want to check your brakes. A car that doesn’t start is a major inconvenience, but one that doesn’t stop is a much larger problem. Examining your brake pads requires a little bit of work, but it’s worth it. To do so, you’ll need to jack your car up and remove the tires. You can do this one at a time if you only have one jack stand. Once the tire is off, you should be able to spot the brake pads located behind the wheel cylinder. Visually inspect the brake pad and see how much is left.
If you don’t want to do this, there are some signs that it’s time to replace your brake pads that you can be on the lookout for. For starters, if your brake pedal feels soft when you push it, this is a sign that something is wrong. You’ll also want to listen for a loud screeching sound coming from your tires when you drive. Brake pads are designed to make this noise when they are worn down too far, to alert drivers that it’s time for a change. Here are some other signs that you need to replace your brakes.
For those of you who don’t feel comfortable testing your brakes on your own, consider taking your car to a trusted mechanic. They can tell you when it’s time to change your brakes and do the job for you too.
Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Another easy thing you can check is your wiper blades. All you need to do is pull them up and give them a quick inspection. Are they broken? Is the rubber material firmly in place? If you’d like to give them more of a test, spray some wiper fluid on your windshield and turn them on. Your windshield should be left completely clear of any fluid.
If, upon inspection, you discover that your blades have seen better days, don’t worry. Replacing wiper blades is relatively easy and cheap, and you can probably do it yourself. You just need to find the right blades for your car and you can order a new pair online. Most come with instructions, and they are fairly easy to install. Don’t take the chance that they completely stop working during a thunderstorm, and get them replaced now while you can.
Finally, you should take the time to examine all of the fluid levels in your car. This means your brake fluid, your oil levels, your wiper fluid, and your Anti-Freeze / Coolant levels. Most of these can be checked in just a matter of minute, and doing so will prevent bigger problems down the line.
Make Car Inspections a Habit
Once you complete your car inspection, you’re not done forever. Whether you’re a new driver or an experienced one, you should make these checks a regular habit, so that you’re always secure in the knowledge that your car is healthy and safe. If you use the list above, and check on your car every few months, you’ll be much happier in the long run.
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