As the long (summer) vacation begins to wind down and school resumption creeps back into your mind for the children, it’s time to think about the vehicles that are expected to be on duty throughout the new school year. With all that extra driving and the rush to be on time, there are expenses related to repairs and additional fuel costs that could add up if your vehicle isn’t prepared.
To help you better prepare for this school year of driving, we want to share a few tips you can use to get your vehicle (or the vehicle your kids are using) up to snuff for the school year:
- Check your tyres – When it comes to the school year, your kids must be on time to class. A blown tyre can cost time you just don’t have. Get your tyres’ treads, inflation and alignment checked to better prepare for the rush that hits during the school year.
- Have hoses and belts checked: With stop and go driving, it’s always important to keep your engine cool. A cracked hose or snapped belt will cause the radiator to overheat and may leave you stranded when it’s critical to be on time.
- Check the wipers and lights: Check both to ensure safer driving as the weather changes and as the days get shorter. Turn the lights on. Failing lights impair a driver’s ability to see the road clearly and in turn, makes it more difficult to be seen by other cars. By turning the lights on while the vehicle is in park position on the gear indicator, owners should walk around the car to make sure the headlights, rear lights, indicators and hazard lights are working properly.
- Get your brakes checked: Whenever you’re considering vehicle maintenance, it’s always vital you get your brakes checked especially if there has been any squeaking or noise as a result of stopping. Faulty or worn-down brakes can impede a driver’s ability to come to a quick stop – making an accident more likely. You can avoid this by having a professional mechanic check the vehicle’s brakes while performing any routine maintenance.
- Check the fluid levels: From coolant to wiper fluid and everything in between; be sure your vehicle’s fluid levels are where they need to be. Right now is the perfect time for parents and guardians to perform any basic maintenance that may be pending on their cars. Oil changes, tyre rotations, and filter replacements should be routine and will help extend the life of the vehicle. Topping off all the fluids – brakes, coolant and transmission – will help the engine to run smoothly and avoid damage. You should also top off the windshield wiper fluid and check the status of your wiper blades in case they need a replacement – all in the name of good visibility!
- Don’t forget the battery – the easiest way to avoid having battery problems is to keep in mind that batteries have a lifespan between three and five years. The best way to avoid a dead battery when you’re in a rush during the coming busy school mornings is to keep it clean and have it looked at right away if you’re having any problems. A mechanic can routinely check the voltage of the battery.
- Get in the zone: Whenever you’re driving near a school, be aware of posted school zone speed limits. These limits exist to make sure children and other pedestrians make it to school safely.
- Watch for crossing guards: When you see a crossing, guard start to cross the road (usually with a brightly coloured vest and stop sign in tow), come to a complete stop to allow children to cross safely. Proceed with caution once the crossing guard returns to the sidewalk and lowers the stop sign.
- Beware of school buses: When you see a school bus, keep a safe distance behind it and prepare for frequent stops. No matter what side of the road you’re on, watch for stragglers as you carefully pick up speed.
- Keep your eyes peeled: Kids move quickly and aren’t always as careful or mindful about traffic as we might like them to be, so keep an eye out for children who are waiting to cross the street, getting out of cars, or by the road. Drive slowly and be prepared to stop suddenly if need be.
- Be a good role model: Set a good example for your kids when driving them to school, friends’ houses, games, and everywhere in between. Take your time to get from point A to point B, follow the rules of the road, and don’t drive aggressively. Last but not the least, don’t drive distracted. Not only is distracted driving dangerous but if your kids see you doing it, they may think it’s okay to do the same when they learn to drive.
- Be ready for an emergency: In a perfect world, all of these precautions should minimize the likelihood of unexpected car trouble, but since we all know that’s impossible everyone needs to keep an emergency kit in their car. The emergency kit should contain a pair of gloves, jumper cables, bottled water, a flashlight, a tyre repair kit, a first aid kit, a basic tool kit, a hazard triangle, and even a small amount of cash. Many will think this is overkill, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to a roadside emergency.