Today, I’m going to provide a few tips on car safety. I’m far from a automotive expert, but I have picked up a few things over the years.

Know how to change a tire

AAA is great to have, but do you want to be completely at their mercy? Changing a tire was a mandatory part of the curriculum in Driver’s Ed when I was in school.

When pulling over to the side of the road, pull over to the side of the road that shields you best from oncoming traffic. You want to be as far from the traffic as possible. I goofed once and pulled over to the wrong side – it is pretty harrowing to have semis whizzing by at 70 mph when you’re changing a tire.

Keep something in the trunk that will allow you to clean up after changing a tire. I hate getting dirty hands on my car interior. Paper towels and bottled water work great. Additionally, the bottled water can be used for drinking if you are stranded. Baby wipes also work very well.

Hydraulic jacks

The jacks that come with today’s cars, quite honestly, suck. Spend a few extra dollars and get a hydraulic jack. I have a bottle jack in the trunk of both of our cars. I think they cost me around $20 each. One of the jacks has unfortunately been used quite a few times. It is much easier to work with than the jacks that come with the cars. Bottle jacks are quite small and should fit in a crevice of your trunk.

Battery

Always carry a set of jumper cables in your car. If you have a dead battery, someone else might have cables, but why leave it to chance? Also, if your battery is showing any signs that it may be dying, replace it! Batteries aren’t cheap, but do you really want to be stranded in a parking lot in the freezing cold because you were trying to squeeze another year out of an aging battery? Don’t be penny wise and pound-foolish.

Wipers

Replace your windshield wiper blades at least once a year. If your car is outside a lot, they might need to be replaced more often. I replace mine in late fall to ensure that I have new blades during the winter. Blades are pretty cheap, and they are pretty easy to install once you figure out the trick. Don’t throw away the old blades – toss them in the trunk. They take up virtually no room, and come in very handy in an emergency if you break a blade while scraping ice from the windshield. Not that this has ever happened to me, of course …

Be wary of strangers

I really hate to say this. I would hope that the vast majority of people that pull over to offer aid are truly trying to help. However, it is prudent to stay alert in case of predators. On the flip side, you should also exercise caution if you are the person stopping to give aid. Most likely, the person actually is a motorist having a problem – but be wary of a carjack scam.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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