Car Basics and Safety...There's More to Driving Than Just Getting Behind the Wheel

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Car Basics and Safety…There’s More to Driving Than Just Getting Behind the Wheel

Car Basics and Safety: There’s More to Driving Than Just Getting Behind the Wheel

As a driver, there is a certain amount of responsibility you take on the second you get behind the wheel. You’re not just responsible for your own safety, but for the safety of those around you – those in other cars, and even pedestrians. This means not only being alert while driving, but also making sure the vehicle you are driving is safe and well maintained.

Check Your Tires 

Your vehicle’s tires are designed to make sure your vehicle has the right grip on the road. As tires wear out or wear unevenly, they won’t stay inflated properly. When this happens, you will find you have more trouble controlling your vehicle while you drive.

Check your tires regularly. When you’re in a gas station, roll over to the air pump and check your tire pressure, adjusting if necessary (your tire’s proper PSI will be printed right on the side of the tire itself).  Have your tires rotated at least once or twice a year (per your vehicle’s manual) and make sure your alignment is checked at least once a year. Tires that aren’t aligned properly will cause your vehicle to pull to one side and can ultimately damage the life of your tires while causing you to use more fuel than necessary.

Check Your Brakes

 The general rule of thumb is that if you hit your brakes, your car, when traveling at 20 miles per hour, should stop within 25 feet. You can test this by going to an open road or parking lot and applying the brakes while traveling at a consistent speed. The car should stop gradually, based on how fast you’re applying the brakes. If you feel the car swerving, you may need to have your brakes checked to make sure they’re not too worn out.

Always pay attention to the noises you hear coming from your car. If you feel an odd pressure or grinding when you hit the brakes, or if you hear squealing or high pitched noises, get your car in for a checkup right away.

Other Car Maintenance Musts

Make a checklist of car maintenance tasks so that you can keep your car in great running order. There’s nothing worse than being that person holding up traffic or stuck on the side of the road because of a breakdown that could have been avoided. Regularly check your lights, wiper blades, oil and other fluid levels, belts and hoses, and fuses. Make sure you service your car on schedule, per your vehicle manual.  You can learn to do these things yourself or you can find a good, trustworthy mechanic to help take care of it for you.

Don’t Be Distracted 

Finally, don’t be a distracted driver. Keep sunglasses in your car so you’re not blinded by the light, especially during morning and afternoon rush-hour commutes when the sun always seems to be in your eyes. Never text and drive, and if you absolutely need to make a call, make sure you’re using a hands-free device so you can keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Don’t be an aggressive driver. Pay attention and be respectful of other drivers and traffic.

Remember, the average car weighs anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 pounds, depending on whether you’re driving a compact car, sedan, minivan, or SUV. The safer you are in preparing to hit the road, and while on the road, the better.

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