Excitement and anticipation fill the air as the family packs their bags for a summer road trip. Everyone gets in the car and buckles their seatbelts. You turn the key to start the ignition and…nothing happens. Thankfully, you're able to call for roadside assistance and get the problem resolved, but you can't help but feel frustrated about this unexpected delay. If only you'd been able to avoid this from happening.
Did you know?
Dead batteries and flat tires are the two most common reasons people request roadside assistance. In many cases, both can be prevented. Below are some tips you can follow to help keep your vehicle in good working order and avoid unwanted surprises.
5 Ways to Avoid a Dead Car Battery
1. Know Your Car Battery's Age – Most car batteries last from five to seven years. If you know how old the battery is, you are better readied to replace it before it fails.
2. Look for Warning Signs of a Dying Battery – Does the engine crank slowly when you turn the ignition key? Do your headlights look dim when you turn them on when the engine isn't running? Is your car failing to start? Are your power windows working slower than normal? These are all signs your battery is at or near expiration.
3. Get a Free Battery Test – Most auto parts stores will test your battery for free. If you use a local mechanic for your routine maintenance, you can also ask him or her to check it for you. Once your battery reaches three years old, it's a good idea to test it at least twice a year – an easy reminder is to have it assessed when you have your oil changed.
4. Replace Your Battery before it's Too Late – If your battery fails your mechanic's free test or you notice the warning signs of a dying battery, it's time to replace it. Your auto repair shop should be able to take care of this for you.
5. Visually Check Your Battery – Doing an occasional visual inspection of your battery can help you spot problems. Look for a chalky white substance, and check the battery's terminals for corrosion. If you see either, talk to your mechanic.
Flat Tire Prevention Tips
1. Keep An Eye On Your Tire Treads – Use the quarter trick. If you place a quarter between the grooves of your tire, the tread should reach past the top of Washington's head. If it doesn't, it's likely time to change your tires.
2. Rotate Your Tires – You can have this done the same time you are due for an oil change. This will ensure your tires are being rotated regularly and will help preserve their life.
3. Avoid Driving near Construction Sites and Other Hazardous Roadways – When possible, plan alternate routes around active construction zones or roads. Sharp rocks, nails, metal shards, and glass can litter surfaces near these sites and cause punctures and flats.
4. Don't Overload Your Vehicle – Overloaded tires generate more heat and friction and fail more easily.