Vehicle Safety Inspection Checklist You Shouldn't Miss

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If you drive your car to work every day or use it regularly for personal and business purposes, it is smart to run a vehicle safety inspection every few trips. As soon as you drive it off the road, you can only hope that everything is working well. One car issue can become a source of accidents, which may lead to injury and even death.

Aside from avoiding road mishaps and accidents, regular vehicle inspection can also ensure that problems are detected and fixed early before they become bigger and more difficult to address. This will not only keep your car efficient and reliable, but it will also make it last longer.

These are the most important car parts that you should not miss to check when running a vehicle safety inspection:

Wheels and Tyres

The wheels and tyres are two of the most important parts to check because they are highly prone to damage due to constant road contact.

Check the tyre pressure. Don’t trust your eyes because some tyres tend to look flat at the bottom. Don’t also base your judgement by kicking your foot against the tyre for a bounce. To measure the exact air pressure of your tyres, get a pressure gauge.

Your tyres also should not have leaks, holes, and tears. They must be in great shape with the tread having plenty of definition for grip. If you cannot see the pattern of the treads, you may need to replace them because they won’t be able to grip the road well. Ideally, car tyres should have at least 3mm of tread for road-gripping.

The Australian 20c Coin Test

You can do a 20c coin test to check your tyre's tread depth. This is done by placing the coin into one of the principle circumferential grooves of your tyre. Does the tread reach the bill of the platypus? If not, it means that there's less than 3mm of tread left on your tyres. You should get new ones to keep you safe on the road!

Lights

Your car’s lights help you navigate the roads safely, especially in the dark. It also provides light for other drivers, helping you avoid collision with another car.

Test your car’s lighting system. Do the headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals work? While turned on, see if they are shining bright and clear. If they appear cloudy or dim, you may need to clean or replace them.

Get a friend to help you check your car’s taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. If you step on the brakes and engage both your turn signals one at a time, what does your friend see? All lights and signals should be working well as they should be.

If your car’s warning lights lit up, it typically means that something is wrong with your vehicle. Have a mechanic check the source of the issue if you cannot detect the problem.

Steering and Suspension

Steering and suspension issues can make your vehicle unsafe to drive.

While suspension problems can be difficult to diagnose, there are tell-tale signs:

  • Pulling to one side while driving
  • Feeling every bump in the road
  • One corner of the car sits lower than the others
  • Nose diving when braking
  • Rolling to the side when cornering
  • Squatting or leaning forward during acceleration
  • Difficult steering

To test your steering, drive to an empty parking lot or any other similar area and turn your car wheel all the way to all sides. Warning signs of a potential steering problem include:

  • Too tight steering wheel
  • Grinding noise
  • Burning oil smell
  • Leaking power steering fluid

Sometimes, steering and suspension problems may need a simple fix as replacing worn leaf springs or loose power steering belt. Other times, it could mean a complete replacement of key steering and suspension components. Seek professional help to ensure that you get the right fix.

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Battery

You don’t need to check the car’s battery every day, but you should do it from time to time, especially during the cold season when it works harder because of increased electrical resistance and thickened engine oil. It loses about 60% of its strength at 0°F, and 35% at 32°F.

Clean your car’s battery from dirt, grime, and corrosion. These things that usually pile up on the battery terminals can add to the increased resistance.

To keep the battery charged in cold temperatures, park it in the garage or at least away from the main direction of the wind.

To avoid freezing, charge your battery. A fully charged battery will not freeze until -76°F while a fully discharged one could start to freeze around 32°F.

When you hop into your car on a frosty day, let your alternator charge the battery before doing other things that require battery power. Likewise, don’t forget to turn off anything that uses battery before leaving your car.

Before winter hits, it’s also smart to get your battery checked. Don’t hesitate to seek a mechanic if your battery has issues that you cannot fix.

Wipers

Make sure your car’s wipers are clean before driving so that you’ll have a clear view of the road even when driving on a gloomy day or when a bug flies into the windshield.

To check if your wipers are working well, spray some glass cleaner on your window and turn the windshield wipers on. If the wipers wipe the cleaner efficiently, they’re in good working condition. If streaks or smears are not removed, you may need to replace your wipers.

Hoses and Belts

Do a weekly inspection of the hoses and belts under the hood to see if they are working well. If they are frayed or damaged, get a mechanic.

Fluids and Leaks

Before driving, ensure that your vehicle’s fluids are full enough and regularly replaced at proper intervals. This will prevent untimely breakdowns, which can cause road mishaps.

Have your old car fluids replaced as recommended:

  • Motor/Engine Oil - According to your manual
  • Transmission Oil - According to the type of vehicle and transmission oil used
  • Coolant - Every three years
  • Brake Fluid - Every two years
  • Power Steering Fluid - Every three years or 30,000 miles

Always check for leaks under the car whenever it’s parked. Harmless leaks are condensation coming off the air conditioning system. Leaks from antifreeze, brake fluid, or transmission fluid, however, could mean a big problem. To track fluid leaks and locate where those drips are coming from, lay down a cardboard box under your car.


So, did your car pass the safety checklist?

You can run a quick vehicle safety examination before taking a ride or you can do them every weekend. What’s important is to do the inspection regularly to assess how your car measures up.

Are all important car parts mentioned above working well? Are these one or two issues that need fixing? You can either DIY or call a mechanic to address them. If half or more than half of the items in your checklist have problems, you may need to stop what you are doing and head to the service centre or car repair shop immediately.

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