Car Safety Checklist

There’s plenty to do in and around Birmingham that can satisfy just about any urbanite or nature-lover. From catching concerts at Iron City to grabbing grub at Saw’s (a favorite of attorney Jon Mann), the city itself is full of opportunities for culture and fun. Getting out of the city is a breeze too, whether you’re hiking Ruffner Mountain Park or marveling at the sunset from Red Mountain Park on clear winter days.

With so much to do, there’s plenty of reason to get out and drive. Overlooking car maintenance is easy enough to do with our busy schedules. This car safety checklist can help keep your car in tip-top shape and you and your loved ones safe.

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Lights

While most of us aren’t thrilled about night driving, it’s hard to avoid – especially this time of year with the days being shorter and the nights longer. Making sure that your lights work is central to staying safe when driving after the sun goes down. Of course, it’s important when behind the wheel at any time of the day. In fact, daytime running lights can reduce daytime crashes involving multiple vehicles by as much as eleven percent.

You will want to be sure to check all of your lighting functions, including headlights, brights, brake lights, taillights, emergency lights, and both right and left turn signals in the front and back. If you detect a burned-out bulb, it’s an easy fix. Most local automotive parts shops carry the replacement you need, or your local mechanic can take care of it for you.

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Water in the Radiator

The radiator helps keep the engine from overheating, and it’s got to have water in it to do its job. Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road with an overheated engine like some unfortunate folks in a bad family vacation movie. To check your radiator water levels, first make sure that the car has been off for a while. You don’t want a hot radiator cap, which will be the case if the engine was recently running. Simply unscrew the cap and look down. If you can see water, you’re all set. If not, add some until you can see it.

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Air Filter

Having clean air filters does more than just keep dust out of your car and supply fresh air; it can also save you money. The cleaner the air filter, the more air can flow into the engine, which improves your gas mileage.

Checking the air filter is easy. Just locate your air filter under the hood (use the owner‘s manual for guidance). Open the container and take out the filter. If it’s still mostly white, you should be in the clear. A filter that is on the brown or black side is one that’s ready to be replaced. Typically, filters are switched out at every other oil change. If you are between changes and the filter doesn’t look bad, but not exactly great, you can gently knock some of the dust and dirt off into a trashcan. Be sure to put the filter back into the case properly and secure the top.

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Oil

Identifying and fixing an oil problem can end up saving you thousands of dollars in repair costs to your engine. (We’re sure you can think of just about anything you’d rather spend your money on than expensive car repairs.) So you don’t blow the money for this year’s vacation plans, you’ll want to check your oil regularly.

Do so when the engine is off to get an accurate reading. Once under the hood, locate the dipstick. Pull the stick out and wipe off the oil residue with a rag. Put the stick back in and pull it out smoothly. The oil should mark the stick near the “full” line, and should be fluid and mostly clear. If the oil comes in far below the line, or is thick or black, it’s time for a stop by your favorite shop for an oil change.

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Transmission Fluid

Your car shifts through gears smoothly thanks to transmission fluid. You’ll want to keep an eye on their levels, and fortunately it’s as simple as checking the oil. Under the hood should be a dipstick labeled “transmission.” Repeat the same steps as checking the oil – pull out the stick, wipe it off, put it back in and pull it out. The fluid should be clean, smooth and without metal flakes. Chunks or flakes of metal mean it’s time to stop-off at your local mechanic.

On Your Side

The attorneys at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums in Birmingham want you to stay safe on our roadways. If you do find yourself injured in a car accident, we’d like to help you get the compensation you deserve. You can contact us today at (866) 515-8880 for a free case evaluation. Consultation is always free and at no obligation to you.

Lee Pittman

About 

Lee Pittman is one of the founding partners of Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, P.C. Learn more about his background and featured practice areas here.

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