Prevent Accidents With Basic Car Maintenance

basic car maintenance

Whether you do it yourself or hire a trusted mechanic, regular basic 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.)

If you’re in the market for car insurance,

be sure to call us at 941-747-4600 for a free,

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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.

Brakes

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

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 Lakewood Financial will be here for you. Please call us at 941-747-4600 if you have any questions about your car insurance policy, or if you need a quote. We’re here to serve you.

Safe Driving Tips for Rainy Days

driving tipsIn the South, over 90 percent of weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. We here in Bradenton and Sarasota are certainly familiar with navigating frequent summer storms, so Lakewood Financial would like to offer a few driving tips to keep you safe when it’s raining or the roads are wet. 

  • Rain makes it harder to see and be seen, and it makes the road slippery, so keep your windshield wipers, tires, and lights (headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals) in good repair.
  • Turn on your headlights when it’s raining. This is the law, but it’s also common sense. Your headlights not only help you see, they help other drivers see you. Even though many cars have daytime running lights, turning on your headlights also turns on your taillights, so drivers behind you will be able to see you better. Don’t turn on your high beams, however, as they can cause distracting and dangerous reflections.

Did you know—it’s illegal to drive with your emergency flashers on? Flashers are to be used only when a vehicle is stopped or disabled. If you feel the visibility is so poor you need to turn on your flashers to be seen, you should safely pull off the road as far as you can, and wait out the storm. (And yes, now you can turn on your emergency flashers.)

 
  • Don’t use cruise control. Under slippery circumstances, you want to be completely focused on your driving. Plus, if you need to slow down quickly, you can ease your foot off the gas, which is safer in wet conditions than braking. Since cruise control aims to keep your vehicle traveling at a set speed, it might even accelerate at a time you should be slowing down.
  • Slow down and allow more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. It takes longer to stop in wet weather, so allow yourself the time and space to react to the unexpected. Also give yourself extra time to get to your destination when it’s raining or conditions are wet so you won’t be tempted to drive too fast. Remember, all it takes is 1/12th of an inch of water and a speed of at least 35 MPH to be at risk for hydroplaning (when a layer of water builds up between the tires of your vehicle and the road, leading to loss of traction).
  • Steer and brake gently. If you start to skid, ease off the gas pedal and gently steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.
  • Don’t drive through large puddles or standing water. If water is deeper than the bottom of your door, you could seriously damage your car.  And never drive through moving water unless you can easily see the ground through it. Your car—and you—could be swept away.
  • Take extra care on wet days that follow a dry spell. Oil and grime deposits on the road can mix with the rain to make things extra slick for the first few hours after rain begins falling again.

We likely have at least a few more weeks of wet driving conditions, so please stay safe out there!

FYI, for information on safe driving, consider taking the National Safety Council’s defensive driving course. You may be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. Be sure to check with your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 to see if you qualify.