Most of the time, we have very little control over accidents. Whether it’s a tree falling on your car or a driver rear-ending you at a red light, there’s not much you can do to avoid the occasional blows the universe has in store for you and your vehicle. That’s why we have auto insurance.
But while you can’t control the weather or the whims of distracted drivers, you can at least ensure your car is in optimal shape for taking on the challenges of the road. Preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping you safe when you’re behind the wheel. Here are seven ways to keep your car in road-ready condition to help you avoid expensive auto insurance claims.
- Do a tire safety inspection. Your car’s tires impact its handling, braking, and overall safety, so it’s important to inspect them regularly to make sure they’re in good shape. That means checking the air pressure, tread depth, and balance, plus making sure the wheels are properly aligned. Some of these you can do yourself. Others, you’ll probably want to leave to a professional — like getting your tires rotated every 5,000 miles.
- Check your lights. As drivers, we rarely see our vehicles from the outside unless they’re parked, so it’s easy to miss a burned-out bulb. A dead headlight, brake light, or backup light can not only be a serious safety hazard, it can also land you a ticket. If you realize a light is out, change it right away.
- Get regular maintenance checkups. While there are some things we can check ourselves, there are some issues that a mechanic is better equipped to recognize. Take your car to a trustworthy mechanic for annual check-ups to spot potential problems with your brakes, steering, belts and hoses, and general performance.
- Get an oil change. It may seem like a hassle, but getting your oil changed regularly is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to ensure that your engine is running well and lasts as long as possible. Oil change intervals can vary greatly depending on your car, driving habits, and the type of oil you use, so do your research to make sure you’re on the ideal schedule for your vehicle.
- Keep your windshield clean. A dirty windshield is a real safety hazard, so make sure your wiper blades are working well and that you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.
- Check your coolant. According to AAA, overheating is the leading cause of car breakdowns in the summer, which is why it’s recommended to get your cooling system flushed and refilled every two years. You should also check the level and condition of your coolant periodically.
- Get a car wash.Treating your car to a bath every now and then will help remove any potentially corrosive materials that have been hitching a ride with you. Definitely spring for the undercarriage wash, especially if you live in a salty climate or you’re wrapping up a long, snowy winter.