D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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By performing routine maintenance on your vehicle, you can decrease your chances of getting into an accident. This in turn will help keep your insurance premiums and auto repair costs low. It’s common knowledge that it’s important to change your car’s oil regularly, rotate your tires, and keep your gas tank above empty. While those are all important ways to keep your car running smoothly and safely, you might be surprised at these less common maintenance practices.

For college students getting on the road and leaving home, it may be tempting to skimp and save where you can. When looking at an auto insurance company, be sure to ask about an insurance discount and compare quotes. This way, you can be sure you’re getting the best deal. Just don’t skimp on your maintenance. $100 on small stuff now could save you thousands in damage caused by an unnecessary accident. It’s not enough to be safe drivers. We also need safe cars. What should you keep an eye on?

Why Do Windshield Wipers Matter?

One of the most basic maintenance procedures is making sure your windshield wipers are still in good shape. On average, windshield wipers should be replaced every six months to one year. You can tell it’s time when your wipers stop pushing rain or snow off your windshield, causing streaking instead of clearing the glass. Replacing windshield wipers is easy you can do it yourself. Failing to replace them will affect your visibility and can cause you to crash.

If you know your windshield wipers have been damaged, don’t wait until you hit the 6-month mark. Just as you would replace your insurance policy immediately if it lapsed, you should replace your wipers immediately if you know they’re damaged.

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Are Your Lights Working Properly?

Another basic check that you should perform on your vehicle on a weekly basis is a light check. Turn your lights on and walk around your vehicle to ensure that they all work. Be sure to take a look at your brake lights, hazards, and blinkers as well. All of the lights on your vehicle are important for visibility both for yourself and for other drivers. If you avoid driving with a bad bulb, you can avoid an accident.

If an officer pulls you over and notices a light out, they’ll let you know. You may get a warning or a fix-it ticket. If you’re doing checks regularly, you can avoid this. It can also be easy to change some lights out yourself.

How Often Should You Check Your Tires?

Tire safety is another important issue. When your tire pressure light comes on, you know you need to go get it checked. Many tire manufacturers say tires naturally lose a little air every month, and they can be damaged before your light comes on.
To reduce your chances of a collision, check your tire pressure and make sure that the reading on your gauge matches the threshold provided in your vehicle’s manual. Most vehicle manufacturers also post the recommended tire pressure for front and rear tires on a sticker commonly located in the door jamb of the driver’s door, or on the edge of the door itself.
Just as important as tire pressure is the amount of wear and tear on your tires. Even in areas with mild weather, bald tires can be dangerous leading to collisions, hydroplaning in light rain, and more. How do you know if your tires are up to snuff? You can check the condition of your tire tread using a penny.

Here’s how: Hold the penny at the bottom, at Abe Lincoln’s shoulders, and insert the penny into the tire’s tread so that Abe’s head is pointing into the tire towards the center of the wheel. If you can fully see the top of Abe’s head, your tires are very worn and should be replaced. If the top of Abe’s head is covered up by the tire tread, you still have some miles left on your tires.

Make sure to check each tire on your car at multiple different points around the tire, so that you can be sure there’s no uneven wear or a flat spot on your tire. If you’re unsure, check with a tire shop or local auto mechanic. If your tires are in poor condition, or if there is uneven wearing, then you could be at risk for a collision.

Are Your Brakes in Good Condition?

Keeping up with your brake system is important as well, according to the state of Califonia’s Motor Vehicles Driver Education Curriculum. Brakes should be inspected regularly by an auto professional, especially after collisions, to ensure that they are operating properly. Be sure to ask your mechanic to check your brakes during regular oil changes, or if you have your car repaired after a collision.

If you let your brakes get too worn down, you’ll end up paying more to replace more parts. You could also be at a higher risk of collision before you replace all the parts.

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Is Your Steering & Suspension in Line?

Additionally, the curriculum also recommends including the steering system as part of regular maintenance checks. If your car “pulls” or drifts slightly to the left or right, have your car inspected with a mechanic who specializes in steering, wheels, and suspension work. Any steering system that doesn’t work properly can lead to a breakdown or a collision. Keeping up-to-date on maintenance will avoid costly repairs and spikes in insurance premiums.

Do You Have Cheap Auto Insurance Rates That Are Right for You?

Are you getting the best cheap auto insurance rates? When you’re first heading off to college, you’ll probably pay more because of age. You don’t have as much driving experience. So even major insurance companies have to curb their risk.

Whether you’re on your parents’ plan or your own, don’t be afraid to get different insurance quotes. You can compare prices and coverage and see if your insurance provider is still the right one for you. Just enter your zip code and answer a few questions to get started.