Breakdown insurance is a great comfort, especially if you drive for long hours or must drive at night or through rush hour traffic. But even with breakdown insurance, mechanical failure or a traffic accident is not much fun at the best of times, and at the worst of times can be extremely scary.
Here are some ideas for mechanical failure prevention.
Basic Driving Tips
Just driving cautiously can help with preventing mechanical problems. Potholes are major offenders when it comes to causing mechanical problems. Driving fast over bumps, dips, or chipped out chunks of roadway can result in damage to tires, alignment or even to damage to suspension or axles.
Another challenge for tires and suspension is driving up on curbs. You might need to do this if you are pulling over for an emergency vehicle or making way for a wide load. Allowing the curb to rub against your tires or having the tires pull up on the curb on one side can cause problems for your vehicle. Slamming on the brakes can cause the pads extra wear and make the disks warp. Riding the brakes or the clutch also adds wear and reduces their life.
Using Good Driving Habits Reduces Strain on Your Vehicle and Increases Its Longevity
Avoid sudden braking, if possible. Plan for gentle reduction of speed when approaching stoplights or stop signs and maintain awareness of events happening ahead. Keep a sharp eye out for road signs or emergency lights that indicate a change in normal traffic patterns ahead.
Maintain a steady pace while driving on the open road. Your vehicle will, over time, develop a “sweet spot” for your most frequently maintained open road speed. You want that speed level to be close to but not exceeding the prevailing speed limit for your most frequently traveled highway.
Watch Those Fluids!
While your vehicle has indicator lights or gauges on your dash panel, check your oil and coolant levels when you fill up the gas tank. You aren’t likely to need oil or other fluids at every refuel, but it is a good time to take a quick look at vital fluid levels. Oil and coolant are the most frequent suspects when your vehicle is “running rough.” Replenishing them as needed helps keep your vehicle’s motor in good running shape.
It might seem obvious but maintain an awareness of your vehicle’s fuel limits. If you have a malfunctioning gas gauge, make it a point to fuel up before entering a long stretch of driving where fueling stations are not likely to be available. Running out of gas is a common cause for assistance callouts.
Be Aware of Unusual Road Obstructions
One of the most common call-outs for roadside assistance is to change a tire. While you might be cautious about keeping an eye on the tread, you might not be aware of a hazard represented by a plastic bag or cardboard box. These can sometimes conceal hazards such as broken glass or jagged pieces of metal, or even nails. Some of these things can wreak havoc even on steel-belted radial tires.
Avoid Driving on a Flat
Speaking of tires, avoid driving on a flat tire. If you feel a tire go out, pull over to the side of the road as soon as possible. The grinding action of a rim turning on a tire, pressing it against the roadway, can cause a great deal of damage to the tire and even to the rim itself.
Good driving habits can also save on petrol use, as well as helping to prevent accidents.