A safe car is a car that works correctly and will not malfunction creating a dangerous situation.
It is important to understand how to properly maintain your car so that when you get to put your new driving skills to the test, your vehicle will also be safe.
Here are the 5 major mechanical failures that can cause an accident and the simple ways you can maintain your car to prevent accidents:
Tires are important because they give you traction and control of your vehicle. Poor tires are the number one cause of accidents due to mechanical failures
What Can Happen: Low Air Pressure
Overtime tires the weight of the vehicle causes your tires to deflate. Sudden temperature changes can also reduce your tire pressure. If the tires are underinflated, they can come loose from the rim or blowout causing you to lose control of your vehicle.
How To Prevent It: Use a tire gauge to check your tire pressure regularly, especially after long trips and weather changes. Make sure your tires are always inflated to the correct pounds per square inch (PSI). You can find the PSI in the owner’s manual or on the tire panel inside the driver side door. You can fill your tires with at almost any gas station or at home with an air compressor.
What Can Happen: Loss Of Tread
After long mileage or driving on poor roads, your tread can wear down. If the tire tread is too low, you will lose traction, making it easier to hydroplane. It also reduces braking performance.
How To Prevent It: Before getting into your car every morning visually check your tire tread. Compare it to your tire wall, the valleys between the tread. If the tread on the front tires starts getting low but the back tires are still in good condition, you should have your tires rotated. Generally you want to rotate your tires every five thousand miles. If your tread is too low on all of your tires, you should have them replaced.
Brakes are extremely important for driving. If your brakes are not working properly, especially at high speeds you can cause a collision.
What Can Happen: Brake Pads Wear Down
Overtime your brake pads wear down. This is especially common if you live in a hilly or mountainous region and have to ride the brakes frequently. Worn down brake pads reduce the efficacy of your brakes and will eventually stop working all together.
How To Prevent It: Check your brake pads by looking at them through the wheel. If they are 3mm thick or less, you need to have them changed. You can also notice when brake pads are low by reduced braking performance. You should replace your brake pads an average of 30,000-35,000 miles.
What Can Happen: Low Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is essential to ensuring you brakes work perfectly. If your brake fluid is low you will have problems braking, sometimes your car will even have a grinding or creaking sound.
How To Prevent It: Check your brake fluid routinely. You can find your brake fluid under the hood above your master brake cylinder. Use the guidelines to tell if your fluid is running low and fill if necessary. You should have your brake fluid completely changed every 1-2 years. If you’ve added brake fluid and it is still low, you probably have a leak and need to see a mechanic.
Your lights help increase visibility and signal your presence and intent to other drivers. It is crucial that all your lights work so that you stay safe on the road.
What Can Happen: Bulbs Burn Out
After a while, your bulbs will burn out from use. If your headlights burn out you will not be able to see clearly at night. If your taillight, brake light, or turning signal bulbs burn out other drivers will not know your intentions and may accidentally drive into you. Both of these situations can lead to a bad collision.
How To Prevent It: Before driving, check and make sure all your lights are in good working order. If they are not, you can replace the bulbs easily. You can find out information about your bulbs and how to change them in your car owner’s manual.
Several fluids help keep your vehicle running smoothly, and each one of these fluids should be properly maintained. Making sure you visit a mechanic regularly should already be enough. They do most of the maintenance routine checks anyways. But it is still a good idea to perform your own checks in between car inspections.
So here’s a list of the different car fluids that you should keep an eye on, and what will happen if you don’t change/maintain them.
Oil is perhaps the most common fluid known to all drivers. It keeps the metal in your engine sliding against each other smoothly. We all know what happens when metal is not oiled properly, it may overheat. So if you allow your car’s engine to run out of oil completely, your engine will fail.
Meanwhile, brake fluid does not evaporate, and it does not actually get dirty. However, it can absorb moisture from the atmosphere, which will boil at a much lower temperature. When this happens, air may form in your brake lines, and yes, it will affect your vehicles’ braking capabilities. In turn, this puts you at more risk of getting involved in an accident.
Also known as antifreeze, an engine coolant is a colored liquid made up of ethylene or propylene and water. It helps regulate your engine during extreme temperatures as it helps to absorb heat and pass it through the radiator.
If you live in a hot environment, coolant breaks down over time, allowing rust to form that will block the cooling paths. What will happen then if you don’t change it? It will overheat your engine.
You also have the transmission fluid which lubricates the bearings and metal parts inside your car’s manual gearbox. It keeps them from grinding down as they move. For automatic vehicles, it also helps in making the internal parts of your car work by providing hydraulic pressure and friction.
If you let this fluid run low, it will not only shorten your transmission’s life, it will make shifting gears difficult because of the contaminants that might form in between those internal gears.
Lastly, the steering fluid lubricates the moving parts within the steering system. It creates a hydraulic link between the steering wheel and the front wheels, making steering easier. Not changing this fluid will, obviously, make turning your steering wheel more difficult.
Your windshield is how you see the road and other drivers so it needs to always be clean, clear, and free of debris.
What Can Happen: Worn Out Wiper Blades
Wiper blades wear out over time, reducing your ability to clean your windshield which reduces your visibility.
How To Prevent It: If your windshield wipers start working poorly, you need to replace them with new ones. It is fairly simple to replace your wiper blades yourself, just follow the instructions in your car owner’s manual.
What Can Happen: Windshield Washer Fluid Is Low
Windshield washer fluid is a fluid you spray on your windshield while driving that cleans debris and dirt off your windshield. Windshield wiper fluid is especially important on dirty roads and in the winter to maintain visibility.
How To Prevent It: You spray your windshield washer fluid with the same trigger you use your windshield wipers. If you spray the fluid and nothing comes out it is time to add more. You will add windshield washer fluid directly into the windshield washer fluid reservoir which is usually a white container located under the hood near your windshield. You can learn how to do this by reading your car owner’s manual.