As September rolls around, students turn their eyes toward school. And if you own a car to get back and forth to classes and part-time jobs, then September is also an ideal time to bone up on car care essentials to keep your vehicle safe on the roads. Whether you’re studying locally at Tulsa Community College or University of Tulsa, or you need to hop on the highway to Stillwater, Norman, Oklahoma City, or out of state, we’ve got seven essential tips for keeping your car in tip-top shape.
- Keep an eye on your tires. Did you know that improper tire pressure can cause you to get fewer miles per gallon? It can also increase wear and tear, resulting in a need to replace the tires sooner than normal, draining dollars out of your wallet. To keep your tires in optimal shape, keep a tire gauge in your car and check the pressure monthly. And check for wear and tear by inserting an upside-down penny in the tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to get new tires.
- Top off all the fluids. Yes, that means performing regular oil changes. But it also means checking on all the other fluids your car needs — transmission, brakes, coolants and more. Clean fluids help your engine run smoothly, while dirty fluids can cause damage. Even the windshield wiper fluid needs to be topped off to ensure you have good visibility in poor weather. Wiper blades need regular replacement too, usually every six to twelve months.
- Check your seatbelts—and wear them. It’s not just the law. It’s safety. Simply wearing a properly fitted seatbelt saves thousands of lives each year. It’s one of the most effective ways to avoid serious injury in an accident. Airbags alone are not enough to protect you. Make sure your seatbelt is secured tightly across the pelvis and rib cage. If you’re driving an old car, ask your mechanic about retrofitting your vehicle with today’s seatbelts, which are safer and more secure.
- Inspect your lights. Burnt out headlights can impair your ability to see the road clearly, increasing the risk of a flat tire or accident. Failing rear lights make it hard for other cars to see you. Turn your lights on while the car is in park, and walk around the entire vehicle to make sure your headlights, rear lights, blinkers and hazards are functioning properly. Replace any broken bulbs as soon as possible.
- Have your brakes inspected. Worn brakes impede your ability to stop quickly and can cause your car to travel farther before coming to a halt — making it more likely you’ll find yourself in an accident. To avoid that, a professional mechanic should check your vehicle’s brakes regularly, preferably as part of a routine maintenance check performed during regular oil changes.
- Keep your battery charged. There’s nothing worse than coming out of classes after a long day, only to find your car won’t start. If your car is sluggish to start or if the dashboard lights or radio are giving you trouble, it may be a sign you need a new battery. Also, batteries only last three to five years, so if you’ve had yours a long time, it’s probably time for a new one. Your mechanic can test your battery during routine maintenance and oil changes.
- Stock an emergency kit. Even when you’re taking care of your vehicle properly, it’s still important to be prepared for an emergency. Items you’ll want to keep in your car in case of trouble include: a flashlight, tire repair kit, first aid items, a basic tool kit (lug wrench, screwdriver, hammer), jumper cables, hazard triangle, a blanket, and even a small amount of cash.
By performing preventative maintenance at home and scheduling additional maintenance with professionals, you can score at the top of your class in car care, saving time and money as you hit the roads all school year long. And remember, we’re always here to help you with your car care needs. To set up an appointment for a routine inspection, oil change, or any other service to keep your car running in tip-top shape, contact The Garage Auto Repair at (918) 806-2709.