I’m proud to partner with SYLVANIA for the #ItsSafetySeason Activation. As part of
my involvement, I have received sponsorship from SYLVANIA for my posts and activities, but all
opinions expressed are purely my own, and all product claims or program details shared should
be verified at SYLVANIA.com.
There is really nothing more important to me than the safety of my family and I’m sure you feel the same way about yours. Since we homeschool our children, we are lucky enough to be able to take a vacation during the off-season. As we get ready to hit the road on a new family adventure, we wanted to make sure our beloved Honda Odyssey was as safe as could be before we head out. While the Odyssey is relatively new, it’s still wise to double check a few things before taking off down the road.
Little known trivia fact about my husband — he went to school to be a mechanic, so over the years I’ve learned quite a bit about how the things you do (or don’t do) for your vehicle can affect its safety. Here are some important things you might be overlooking.
Check Your Fluids
If you can do maintenance yourself, it’s a good idea to do an oil and filter change and fluid check. Having fresh lubrication running through the engine during a long trip can mean a big difference in the function of the engine. This often won’t be immediately noticeable. Rather, it is great for the longevity of the engine. The additives and detergents in the oil help keep the engine clean and the rings and seals functional. Your engine will thank you. As far as other fluid levels, remember to check your washer fluid, coolant, and brake fluid levels. Running out of washer fluid at an inopportune time is usually a pretty mild safety concern. However, running low on coolant or brake fluid can lead to absolute disaster. Overheating your engine block can lead to a cracked head gasket or warping and, depending on the value of your vehicle, can lead to it being totaled by your insurance company.
Check Your Tires
Even if you inspect and replace every part on your car at the recommended intervals, none of it will do any good if your tires aren’t in proper shape. Driving with tires that are below the proper tread depth can result in drastically increased stopping distances and reduced traction. This mixed with a little bit of rain, sleet, or snow is a recipe for an accident. Tires tread depth is very easy to forget to check when you’re thinking about all the other safety-related items on your car! To check the tread depth on your tires you can use a tread depth gauge, or if you don’t happen to have one of those, try the “penny test.” Simply insert a penny into the tire tread grooves with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are at 2/32nds of an inch or less of remaining tread and you need to replace your tires immediately!
In addition to tread depth, improper inflation PSIs (pounds per square inch) will also have an effect on your ability to stop or maintain traction. Always check your vehicle’s tire pressure recommendations in the owner’s manual or the sticker in the driver’s door jamb. Be aware that some vehicles recommend differing inflation rates to the front and back tires!
Check Your Headlights
Since your headlights are the first line of defense on the road, upgrading to better headlights will maximize the amount you can see downroad and side road, which can mean additional reaction time, potentially preventing an accident from ever occurring. Lights dim over time, so it’s recommended that you replace your headlight bulbs annually to maximize visibility. It’s likely that your vehicle came equipped from the factory with SYLVANIA bulbs, which is why we choose SYLVANIA for our aftermarket lights too. I know that their high-quality bulbs will match my specific vehicle specs.
Do you want to see better when driving at night? We live in the country, so adequate lighting is so important, especially during this time of the year when deer are frequently jumping out in front of our vehicles, so with our recent bulb update with installed SYLVANIA SilverStar ULTRA headlights. These bulbs offers the brightest downroad with a whiter light for more clarity. Whiter light also improves contrast, allowing you to distinguish objects on the side of the road better. I’ve noticed a big difference and feel much more confident driving at night now.
Remember to always replace headlights in pairs. If one headlight is new and one old, there will be an uneven field of vision on the road, which can be a distraction to you and to the other drivers on the road.
Check Your Battery
Checking your battery can mean the difference between getting stranded somewhere or making it to your destination on time. Before leaving, make sure to check for corrosion between the terminals of the battery and the leads that feed the electricity to the rest of the vehicle. Surprisingly, a very small amount of corrosion can prevent your car from starting. If you do notice some corrosion during your inspection, simply loosen the leads and clean them with a brush and a little bit of water and baking soda. Repeat for the battery terminals. If you have a battery that has been installed for a year or two, it wouldn’t hurt to have it professionally checked. Most auto parts stores have a machine that can check your battery for insufficient charge. Best of all, they will check it for free!
Check Your Car Seats
Traveling with car seats? It is astonishing how many are not installed correctly. An incorrectly installed car seat negates much of the g-force distribution when in an accident, which translates to a greater risk of injury for your child. The goal of any good car seat design is to direct impact forces around your child and improper installation will allow additional stress to your child’s body. If you are unsure of the quality of your installation, most fire stations have trained fire officers who can double check your car seat. Please, please, please take advantage of this service! It’s free and it could possibly save your child’s life! You can find additional car seat safety tips here.
Check For Loose Objects
In the event of a crash, loose objects within the vehicle become projectiles. Strategic Safety found that everything from luggage to soda pop cans that were not tied down were responsible for more than 13,000 injuries in accidents nationwide in just one year. 13,000 injuries in one year alone! Utilize your trunk or cargo area to secure large items and bags and put smaller items like your cell phone and wallet in the glove box. Make sure that everyone in the vehicle buckles up too, because an unbuckled person can also cause a lot of damaged to those properly restrained.