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How Safe Is Your Family Car?
Whenever we get behind the wheel with passengers, we must always remember just how precious our cargo is. Whether it’s around the corner, or across the state, accidents can happen at any time, so you need to know how safe your car is in the time of emergency.
In the aims of encouraging advances in safety technology and to promote continuous leaps in vehicle safety, ANCAP was created in 1992. ANCAP, or Australasian New Car Assessment Program, performs rigorous testing, to ensure their star ratings maintain a high recognition of safety standards. To do this, the vehicle must achieve a minimum score in each of the physical tests, as well as rise to meet the minimum requirements for safety assist technologies and key safety features.
If you’re concerned about your car’s safety, research the ANCAP rating first. However, there are a few safety checks you can perform at home for added peace of mind.
Checking Your Oil:
One quick fix to low oil can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs, if you find it before the damage is sustained, as the engine can seize and cease to operate. Check your oil before driving the car and ideally after the engine has had a minute to warm slightly to the touch. Simply locate the dipstick, pull out and wipe the oil off the end. Now when you replace the stick and pull it out again, you will get a clear indicator of how full your oil is by how deep or shallow the oil line is. If it significantly lower than the ‘full’ line, then you may need to take your car to the garage for an oil change and ask them to look for a leak. Check that your oil is thin and clear- if it’s black and jelly-like, take it to a mechanic immediately.
Transmission fluid ensures your gears shift smoothly and is as simple and important as checking the oil. Simply look for the dipstick labeled “transmission” and use the same steps as checking the oil. This transmission fluid should be smooth and clean and without any chunks or flakes. Any small debris could be a sign of a deeper problem, so visit your mechanic if you find any in your transmission fluid.
A flat battery can be a huge inconvenience, but you can easily do a visual check of the battery terminals, simply by checking for clean terminals with no corrosion buildup. If you do spot some corrosion, a great way to scrub it off is with a steel brush and a can of Coca-Cola. With the car turned off, and the battery disconnected, pour some Coke on the terminals and allow it settle for a few seconds, before giving it a good scrub with the steel brush.
Ineffective headlights can be a major hazard at night, for yourself as well as the traffic around you. Check all your lights for proper functioning- brake lights, headlights, tail lights, high-beams, left/right turn signals — front and back — and emergency lights. To check the brakes on your own, you can block your wheels and put a heavy object on your brake pedal. Brake lights are critical, so find a replacement if you see it’s dim or out.
Tyres are your only pressure points between you and the road, so check them rigorously. Measure the pressure of each tyre, using your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure of the tyres. Most fuel stations will have air pumps ready to inflate low pressure tyres. Check the tread is at it’s minimum of 1.5mm, to ensure traction is kept on your journey.
Use these easy at-home techniques to keep your family safe in your car and to avoid a crash or emergency. You can also read through our Bad Drivers article to add more safety tips to your journey.
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