Vehicle maintenance is often overlooked as a preventive measure to help avoid accidents. Most people are really only concerned whether their vehicle will start when they put the key in the ignition and try to go. However, vehicle maintenance can be a critical factor in avoiding an accident. Vehicles don’t last forever but we can help prolong their life span through planned maintenance and periodically examining for unusual wear. Below are a few common ways to help maintain a safer vehicle for passengers and other motorists on the road.
Tire maintenance is one of the most effective ways to increase vehicle safety and reduce accidents. Most people do not realize that tires expire even if they have useful tread left. Most tire manufactures suggest that tires be replaced every 5 years. After this time period tires can become hard and brittle, which will increase braking distance and reduce handling in all weather conditions. Inspecting tire tread wear bars and looking for signs of dry rot are easy ways to identify if tires may need to be replaced. You can also prolong the safe useful life of tires by checking tire pressures regularly (every other fill up), having the vehicle alignment inspected, and maintaining proper driving habits to avoid harsh acceleration, braking, and cornering.
Maintenance of the brake system on your vehicle is another effective way to increase vehicle safety. This system can be relatively complex and harder to inspect. However, there are a few ways to identify if your brake system needs attention. Periodically check the brake fluid level under the hood, if the brake pedal feels soft or has increased travel, noise from the brakes when stopping, ABS/brake dash light is illuminated, and increased stopping distance. If any of these things occur have a professional examine your brake system as soon as possible. Furthermore, one of the most over looked maintenance items of the brake system is a brake fluid flush. Much like engine oil, brake fluid needs to be changed. Usually brake fluid needs to be flushed once every two years or 24,000 miles.
Checking for any fluid leaks under the vehicle may seem relatively simple but can also help increase safety and longevity of the vehicle. Possible fluids that can leak are engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, engine coolant, and brake fluid. A leak can indicate that a part needs to be replaced on a vehicle or service is needed. Fluid leaks when not addressed can cause break downs, reduced handling or stopping if fluid comes into contact with the tires or brake components, unintended pollution, and possibly vehicle fires.
The above are three easy ways to increase the safety and useful life of your vehicle. As always, it is best to become familiar with the maintenance schedule located in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. If any questions or suspected problems arise with your vehicle it is always best to consult with an ASE certified technician.