While American Insurance Partners is always there for when things happen, some basic preventative auto maintenance will keep you and your loved ones safer on the road.
Make sure that your headlights, tail lights, and brake lights are all clean and in working order. While your annual car inspection checks on these, don't wait until that time to get them fixed or replaced if they go out before then. Being visible on the roadway — and properly seeing what's in front of you — goes a long way to avoiding accidents.
Like the lights, ensuring you have a clear view out all your windows is imperative to safe driving. Doing the following will make sure you have a good view all around.
— Clean the front and rear windows of any dirt and debris
— Regularly clean the inside of all your windows
— Replace windows that are cracked, especially if they impair the driver’s visual field.
Dirty and worn wiper blades are not able to properly remove rain, snow, or road splash and can directly affect visibility. Windshield wipers should be regularly cleaned and replaced at the first sign of wear.
All cars have wipers on the front window. But if you have a hatchback or SUV, most of these have rear wipers as well — don't neglect to check and replace those too.
Personal vehicles are normally equipped with two external mirrors and one interior mirror. Always check that they are properly cleaned and pointed in the right direct so you're able to keep track of traffic around you as you drive. Repair or replace broken mirrors immediately.
Your ability to start, stop, and steer are all determined by the quality of your tires. Not only will they protect you and your passengers, keeping them properly maintained can increase gas mileage and even improve how well your car rides.
Tires that are worn or damaged — especially on wet roads — have less traction and are more likely to skid, puncture, or blow out. The following maintenance procedures will help extend the life of your tires:
— Keep your tires at the proper air pressure.
— Perform regular rotations every 5k-6k miles.
— Check that tires are properly balanced (normally done when they are rotated).
— Have your wheel alignment checked and, if necessary, realigned at least once a year.
All of these will help ensure your tires are in working order and extend their life, but when the tread gets too thin, it's time for new ones. When you do buy new ones, know that it's an investment in your and your passengers' safety, so buy the best you can afford.
Brakes can be one of the most noticeable issues when they need attention. Look for the following to help identify any brake issues and bring them to the attention of your repair professional:
— Brake light on your dashboard comes on
— Squeaking, grinding or other loud noise
— Vibration or pulling to one side when stopping
— Mushy foot pedal
— Overly sensitive foot pedal
— Burning smell after parking
— Fluid leaks around tires
The lowly seatbelt is your first line of defense when it comes to auto safety. It's also forgotten about when it comes to vehicle maintenance. In the U.S. between 2010 and 2014 alone, over 63000 lives were saved by them. So it stands to reason that you want to make sure that they are kept in good working order. What to look for when doing some maintenance:
— Make sure they properly retract. Not being able to properly restrain an occupant affects that individual's safety should a collision occur.
— Check the buckle and tongue to make sure there is nothing preventing it from buckling properly.
— Check the straps for fraying, severe stiffness or other damage. These can all cause the belt to break and not properly do its job of protecting its occupant.
— If the belt was used in an accident to restrain an occupant. Seatbelts are a "one time use" item in a car and will need to be replaced after an accident.
Any issues with the above will be cause to replace the belts to continue keeping all occupants in the car safe during a collision.
Want to make sure you have the appropriate auto coverage for your vehicles? Please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your current needs.