It’s safe to say that a majority of car accidents are caused by user error rather than faulty equipment or environmental factors. But as we all know, properly maintaining and caring for your vehicle can keep it in good working condition and prevent breakdowns and other mechanical failures that can increase the driver’s risk of being injured in a car accident.
Putting off the routine checkups and scheduled maintenance for your vehicle can prove to be quite costly down the road. Aside from the long-term damage that this can do to your car, it can also turn your vehicle into a time-bomb that is just waiting to break down.
The people over at Yahoo! Finance put together a list of the top ten mistakes that Americans make that are proven to lead to extensive vehicle damage and potential breakdowns.
1. Putting off recommended/scheduled maintenance.
This is pretty generic and straight-forward, as there are a number of small checkups that you should perform on your vehicle every once in a while. These include checking your battery, topping off fluids, getting the oil changed, aligning tires and replacing brakes when necessary. Obviously, all of these put the driver in a better position to be in control of the vehicle and avoid an accident.
2. Ignoring the "check engine" light.
This is one of the biggest no-no’s of all time, mainly because the check engine light is only a generic indicator that something is wrong. It can be something as simple as a loose gas cap, or as serious and expensive as replacing the catalytic converter. Either way, get it diagnosed and taken care of as soon as possible.
3. Not changing the oil, or not having it changed on time.
One of the first guidelines you pick up when learning about cars is the importance of changing the oil. Car engines build up gunk and sludge that can cause major problems in the future.
4. Not checking tire pressure.
Properly-filled tires provide better gas mileage for a vehicle, but also have a big impact on the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. Poorly inflated tires put the driver at risk of being in an accident, especially in difficult weather conditions.
5. Neglecting coolant, brake, transmission and other fluid services.
While coolant is specifically meant for protecting the engine from overheating, other fluids are actually extremely important in keeping the vehicle functioning properly. Brake and transmission fluid are especially significant in preventing car accidents because they help control the movement of the vehicle.
6. Continuing to drive when the vehicle is overheating.
The dangers of this practice should be self-explanatory. An overheated engine could lead to an engine fire and seriously injure the driver. At the very least, the driver could be facing costly repairs or a totaled vehicle.
7. Not changing fuel and air filters.
Regularly changing the air and fuel filters in a vehicle is more beneficial to gas mileage and emissions than it is to preventing accidents and driver safety. However, a well-functioning vehicle is always safer than a poorly-functioning one.
8. Having unqualified shops service your vehicle.
There are a lot of auto repair shops out there that are simply in the business for the money. Unfortunately, that means unsuspecting car owners risk falling victim to faulty repairs and cheap parts if they don’t check into the reputation of the repair shop. You don’t want a mechanic installing dangerous or faulty parts on your vehicle, mainly because you never know how those parts might hold up down the road.
9. Using generic aftermarket parts instead of original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-quality parts.
Again, brand-name parts are going to have the longest warranties and have been thoroughly inspected for safety. Make sure you know the brands and reliability of the parts that are being installed in your vehicle before the mechanic begins working on your car.
10. Trying to service your own high-tech vehicle.
Some people prefer to change the oil or service their own vehicle themselves, rather than take it to a mechanic. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you know exactly what you’re doing. There’s a reason that auto mechanics exist, and it’s for people who aren’t experienced enough to make the repairs or service the vehicle on their own