Drive a safe car and drive prepared!

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC

Our May blog about Hampton Roads Transportation and Operation Center’s annual report discussed the importance of keeping up with your car’s maintenance. This article goes into more detail on how to keep your car better maintained for saving money and safety. Here are our top ten tips for staying safe:

  • Routine maintenance - This is one of the best ways to extend the life of your car and prevent major costly repairs. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions and take your car in to help prevent unexpected breakdowns. You don’t have to know much about cars to open the hood and see if the belts and hoses look worn. Replacing a worn part before it breaks can prevent greater damage and more costly repairs.
  • Tires - Check tire pressure at least once a month, including the spare. Being over or under-inflated can lead to the tread separating from the tire. Worn tread can also be hazardous in wet conditions. Uneven tread wear can indicate a problem with alignment, wheel balance, or front-end suspension.
  • Battery - Many people just assume that a car battery will last the full 5 years. Unfortunately, extreme heat/cold and even dirt kicked up from the road can shorten a battery’s life. Driving only sort distances daily can shorten the life of a battery as well, as it never gets fully recharged and changes the chemical makeup. using a load tester, available at any car parts store, check the battery every time you change the oil.
  • Noise - Strange noises could indicate a slipped or damaged belt, while a shaky steering wheel could indicate a problem with your brakes or front-end alignment. (Side note- if your music is too loud, you might not hear a problem until it’s too late.)
  • Fluids - Look under your car- is it leaking fluids? There are six fluids you should check at least once a month: coolant, brake, transmission, power steering, oil, and windshield washer. If you are constantly refilling fluids, you most likely have a leak.
  • Warning lights - Don’t ignore them, they are there for a reason. Today’s car systems are electronic and when one thing goes out, it could affect other systems.
  • Wipers- Wipers become brittle with exposure to the elements and should be replaced every 6-12 months.
  • seat belts - Make sure your belts are working and every passenger is always properly belted. seat belts reduce injuries by 70%, and unbuckled passengers may become projectiles in an accident. Never put a child under the age of 13 in the front seat with an active airbag.
  • Distractions - Keep all distractions to a minimum. This includes, but is not limited to, eating, switching radio stations, cell phones, and your GPS. Texting while driving is against the law in Virginia.
  • Emergency roadside kit- In the event that you do break down, there are a few things that are very important to have on hand. Visit our blog for tips on how to make your own kit. http://goo.gl/zOxxLz
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