4 DIY Car Inspections You Should Always Do for Safe Driving
The mechanic is often the first person you visit when you’re unsure about your car’s performance. It’s a good practice. With that said, you don’t have to go to your mechanic for everything related to its reliability. If you want to test minor things, a “self-check” is one of those safe driving practices you can adopt as an alternative to visiting the mechanic. You can always take a trip to the shop if you’re dealing with a potentially complicated or expensive fix. But when it comes to the small things, save both yourself and your mechanic from an unnecessary appointment!
Car Maintenance Starts in Your Own Garage
Now determining what is within your realm or the mechanic’s job is somewhat tricky. After all, some of you may be part-time greasemonkeys, perhaps dabbling under the hood from time to time. And then there are those of you who wouldn’t touch your car unless you had some kind of mechanic certificate. But there are some car parts that just about any driver – young, old, experienced or inexperienced – can check without needing auto training or credentials.
Have you ever passed a car at night that had one of its lights not working? Perhaps you we’re one of those people who pulled up beside them – assuming they were in the next lane – letting them know they had a light that was dim or dead. And it was better you telling them instead of a cop. For your own sake, it’s important to avoid any possible run-ins with the law by making sure your lights are shining and responsive.
The Test: Turn your car on, and take a quick walk around it. Hopefully, both your headlights and tail lights will shine. If not, you can either replace the bulb yourself or take it to your mechanic. As for your turn signals, you can switch them on and step outside to see them blinking. Another option is to have a family member or friend verify that they work.
Generally, we don’t put too much stock in the function of our wipers, but they are vital for safe driving. If you ever got caught in a rain storm or blizzard with faulty wipers, your life as well as the lives of your passengers could literally be hanging by a thread. That’s why your wipers need to work at tip-top shape – no exceptions. And if you were to cause an accident due to poor visibility caused by poorly functioning wipers, you could automatically be at fault for the crash.
The Test: Testing your wipers are so easy, that there’s no explanation needed for checking them – turn them on before driving. With that said, pay more attention to how your wipers behave, rather than the obvious (do they work at all). It goes without saying you’ll need to fix a wiper that doesn’t budge. However, keep your ears open for scraping noises, and your eyes open for cracks in the windshield or peeling rubber. Additionally, check your wiper fluid to see if there is any, so that you’re not stuck with dirty stains on the windshield.
If you want to damage your engine fast, then stop checking and changing the oil. You just might end up stranded by the roadside in no time. There’s no doubt in mind that you want to avoid such a situation, so you need to stay on top of your engine’s oil levels. Besides, if you’re driving a real performance vehicle, why would you want to sacrifice that by neglecting its oil content. Make it your goal to check your oil regularly, and take your car for its necessary oil change (as specified by your car’s manufacturer).
The Test: If you’ve got an older vehicle, you may still rely on the good old dipstick. You don’t have to check the oil every day or even every week, but you should keep a close eye on it once you get closer to your oil change date. If your vehicle is newer, you’ll most likely have a meter on the dashboard that alerts you regarding your oil levels. You literally have to make no effort for such a car since it will flash when the oil levels get low. The most important thing is for you to address it right away. With that said, you can always take your car before the oil light comes on, by scheduling an appointment that coincides with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.
Your tires contribute so much to your driving performance and experience. Yet still, many drivers forget about inspecting their tires to ensure that they’re up to standard. Usually, your tires receive general servicing in terms of pressure checks and inflation. But that alone doesn’t render your tires invincible. Remember, your tires drive over rocks, potholes, fissures, cracks and all sorts of road “turbulence”. That’s why it doesn’t hurt to take a look at them with your own eyes.
The Test: Take a good look at your tires by walking around the vehicle (preferably under bright light or sunshine). Keep an eye out for things like cuts or scrapes along the tire wall, and take note of objects lodged into the tires themselves (ie. nails). Finding these flaws may indicate the need to replace a tire, especially if the damage looks serious.
Why Bother With these Practices
If you recall, some of the above-mentioned tips are things you may have learned at a driving school. For example, if you spent a week in a driving class as a teenager, you might remember your instructor telling you about the need to walk around and inspect the car. Such advice may seem like a burden or a bit excessive, now that you are older. However, these habits demonstrate some important truths about driving safety. You don’t have to go too far to keep safe on the roads.
Why these Self-Checks are Worth the Effort
- They’re Quick – How long does it take to walk around your car to see if your lights are shining, or how much time will you lose checking your wipers? Almost none at all. These self-checks take only a few minutes, if not seconds in some cases.
- They’re Free – You’d have to pay a mechanic for his labour, but no one would charge you for inspecting your own vehicle. So save yourself a couple bucks – you can use the money for the repairs you aren’t able to do yourself.
- They’re Painless – In all four examples mentioned above, there was no mention of specific tools needed. All you need are your hands and your senses.
Safety Starts Small
Unless you have a passion for cars yourself, you most likely rely on a mechanic to take care of your car needs. That includes regular maintenance and any necessary repairs. But there are plenty of smaller checkups that a mechanic doesn’t need to handle, and this is where you come in. Take the initiative to inspect your car, observing the four areas mentioned in this post. Although they seem very simple, they can save you time, money and more importantly, you and your family from an accident.