Whether you do it yourself or hire a trusted mechanic, regular car maintenance not only keeps your vehicle running well and safely, it also may prevent an accident. Since every vehicle is different, be sure to read your owner’s manual for information specific to your make and model. (If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you may be able to find one online.)
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Here are five car maintenance basics that will help you stay safer on the road:
Where the rubber meets the road
The condition of your tires affects how your car handles and how well it stops. According to one estimate, there are 33,000 tire-related crashes in the U.S. every year. Once a month, before you drive somewhere and your tires are cool, check their air pressure (don’t forget the spare tire). Also examine the condition of your tires, looking for any cuts, bulges, or uneven wear, and checking tread depth. Rotate your tires about twice a year and have your wheels aligned as needed so your tires will wear evenly.
Beware of noise when braking—it could indicate worn brake pads. Worn pads can damage rotors, which can be expensive to repair, and if neglected long enough can lead to brake failure. If you hear grinding, scraping or squeaking sounds, have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.
Keep it clean
When you’re driving, you want to be able to see well and to be seen, so keep your windshield, mirrors and lights clean and free of stuck-on debris such as love bugs. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your windows—they can get grimy, too, making it harder to see. Clean your wiper blades to remove buildup of dirt, and replace them when they fail to easily sweep your windshield clean.
And speaking of lights…
Make sure all your lights and turn signals work. Are you headlights aligned? If they’re not, you may have trouble seeing the road at night.
Fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid keep your vehicle running smoothly. Check oil level once a month, and change it regularly (again referring to your owner’s manual for frequency). Flush and replace fluids according to your vehicle manufacturer’s schedule. Watch for telltale puddles beneath your vehicle—you might have a fluid leak.
A well-maintained vehicle is not only a safer vehicle, it will last longer and run better, saving you money in the long run. We hope you’ll never be in a car accident, but if you are, rest assured L & M Insurance Group will be here for you. Please call us at 813-672-4100 if you have any questions about your car insurance policy, or if you need a quote. We’re here to serve you.