Road Safety | Avoiding mechanical defects in your vehicle
School is out, but Malta and the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining are keeping road users in the know with tips and advice on how to stay safe this summer. Look out for this Malta ROAD SCHOLARS road safety series for more information.
As summer 2017 winds down, you might be planning one last road trip with friends or family. So far, you've followed the rules of the road and modelled the behaviour of a courtesy driver, but even the most conscientious drivers sometimes fail to consider the condition of their vehicles. Is your ride really road-worthy? After a fun-filled summer of road trips and partygoing, you must ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape in order to prevent malfunctions that can lead to crashes.
"Too often, road crashes occur as a result of vehicle malfunctions which can easily be prevented," said Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining. "We encourage all motorists to take proper care of their vehicles by getting regular maintenance checks done, particularly before going on long journeys where their vehicles will be running for a longer duration."
There have been an astonishing 1,500 road crashes resulting from mechanical defects over the past three decades, all of which could have been prevented by simple maintenance checks. The more basic checks can be done by you, while in-depth maintenance checks are done when your auto-mechanic is servicing your vehicle.
Auto-Mechanic Maintenance Checks
A visit to the auto-mechanic is just like a visit to the doctor's office; you should get regular check-ups, even when you are feeling fine. If you notice your car is underperforming, this is a sign that attention from your auto-mechanic is necessary. However, regular maintenance checks of your vehicle minimise repair costs. A stitch in time does save nine.
Preventing defects by having your vehicle serviced is critical to ensuring safety, reliability, drivability, comfort, and longevity of the vehicle. It is important that all vehicle owners schedule maintenance checks by their auto-mechanic every six months or 10,000km (whichever comes sooner). A vehicle in tip-top shape will have a better chance of staying reliable and performing efficiently on a long trip. All motorists should check their owner's manual, which gives a detailed outline of the maintenance needed for the vehicle make and model, but any vehicle service should include changing the engine oil, filter and getting a thorough safety check. Servicing your car also extends the life of mechanical components and increases its resale value.
Basic Maintenance Checks
In between professional vehicle maintenance checks, there are many basic checks you can do yourself. Most vehicles come with built-in technology that alerts when you need to conduct these checks. They are usually in the form of symbols on the dashboard that light up when you need to check, with the most common ones being the check engine, tyre, oil, and temperature gauges. Before driving, check to ensure that your tyres are fit to drive by checking the air pressure in each, checking that front and tail lights are working, ensuring your windscreens are clean and your wipers are functioning properly.
There are also under-the-hood checks that you should do before leaving home that mitigate against road crashes due to a mechanical defect. These checks include checking your engine oil, transmission fluid level, engine-coolant level in the overflow tank, and checking your car battery for acid leaks and corroded connections. If you are not sure where to look or how to conduct these checks, read your owner's manual for specific instructions based on your vehicle's make and model. Conducting these basic checks will help you to advise your auto-mechanic during your regular maintenance check and also let you know if you need to take your vehicle to a professional before your next road trip.
Whether it's one last road trip to end the summer, or preparing your vehicle for your daily commute, ensure that you are playing your part to prevent road crashes. Malta and the Road Safety Unit urge all road scholars to demonstrate proper road safety.