Whether you’ve just bought a car or you’re looking for ways to preserve an existing one, there are several safety checks you can perform to reduce the risk of an accident or pricey repairs. Keeping your car in good shape and installing some extra safety features could prevent serious damage and also ensure a smoother ride.
Here are six simple ways to make your car safer:
#1: Perform a regular tire check
Making sure your tires are in good shape is essential for preventing skidding on the road or getting a flat. If the tread on your tires has worn out, you run the risk of losing control of your vehicle on wet roads. Consumer Reports recommends using a tread-depth gauge to measure the grooves on all four tires to see how many inches of tread you have left. You can also refer yourself to our very own guide that explain how to safely maintain your tires. It’s also a good idea to check the air in your tires. Unless your car alerts you of low air, you’ll want to check the air pressure at least once a month to make sure all your tires are properly inflated.
#2: Stick to a routine maintenance schedule
Whether you purchased your car from a dealership or found one on your own, you’ll need to register your vehicle with a trustworthy mechanic who can put you on a regular maintenance schedule. From oil changes to tire rotations, it’s important to have your vehicle undergo a basic inspection every few months to ensure things are running smoothly.
#3: Rearview backup camera installation
Rearview backup cameras will be mandatory in all new cars by 2018, a decision made by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) in 2014 in an effort to reduce accidents that often involve young children. According to Edmunds, nearly half of 2014 model vehicles sold in the United States already have a back-up camera installed; if you’re buying a used car, be sure to look for this safety feature. These cameras allow you to see what is going on behind and below your vehicle as you back out of a garage or parking spot, eliminating the risk you will run over an animal, child, or hit a misplaced object.
#4: Initiating hands-free calls and texts
Texting while driving or using hand-held cell phones while driving is against the law in 14 states and is still a safety hazard in states where there is no ban. If you want to reduce the risk of an accident, take steps to initiate hands-free calling and Bluetooth connections that allow you to speak-to-text. You can download apps for hands-free text messaging, but that’s no guarantee that you won’t be distracted — Scientific American points out how being preoccupied with composing a text while trying to pay attention to the road is still risky.
#5: Load up your car safety kit
You’ll never know when you need to patch up a tire, put up warning signs for emergency help, or use a snow shovel to dig your car out from a snowy ditch. Make sure your trunk has a car safety kit filled with basic tools and gear to help you out in an emergency. It’s also a good idea to keep emergency contact numbers and details about towing service providers in your wallet, smartphone, or even the car’s glove compartment if you need to call for help.
#6: Adjust your seat and car mats
If you don’t have good driving posture for a long drive or the mats in the driver’s side are misplaced, you run the risk of pushing the pedals incorrectly. Make sure your seat is adjusted to accommodate your height and your feet can reach the pedals comfortably. Adjust the mats so they’re not bunched up against one of the pedals and applying pressure when your foot is off the pedal. These simple fixes are easy to overlook — especially if you share your vehicle with other drivers — so a quick check before you drive can ensure a safer ride.