Driving a car is one of the potentially most dangerous things people can do, but you can prevent some problems if you know how to check your car before driving it. A visual inspection can prevent you from having a flat tire accident, and many other potential hazards.
Method 1 of 2: Short Trips
Step 1. Check for leaks under the car
Driving with fluid leaks can cause steering, brake, or radiator failure.
Step 2. Check that the tires are properly inflated or have any obvious damage from overuse
In the worst case, a flat tire can cause a crash.
Step 3. Have someone look at the back of the car to see if the lights are working
Start the car and turn on the turn signals, then press the brake and put the car in reverse for the person to verify that the lights are working properly.
Ask the same person to stand in front of the car, then turn on the headlights and activate the turn signals
Step 4. Check the back seat and make sure no one is hiding there
Sometimes car thieves hide in the back seat, and then surprise the driver once the car is in motion.
Step 5. Check your windows to make sure you have good visibility
Check your mirrors to make sure they are properly aligned, giving you a good view of the road.
Step 6. Learn to know the correct calibrations for the dash gauges so you know that everything will be working fine
Check the gauges every time you start the car. Check the engine temperature gauges once it has warmed up.
Step 7. Check the vents, heating and air conditioning systems to make sure they are working in case you need to defog or defrost the windows
Method 2 of 2: Long Trips
Step 1. Check the fluids in the car periodically
Check the oil weekly. Check the brake and steering fluids as well as the engine de-icer fluid. Also check the transmission fluids monthly or before taking a long trip to make sure they are full. Check the fluids when the engine is cold. Refill the windshield washer fluid if necessary.
Read the user manual for instructions on how to check fluids. Engine fluid levels - including oil, brake and steering fluid - are easier to check using the dipstick under the hood. In new vehicles the antifreeze fluid is visible in a plastic container that is separate from the radiator
Step 2. Check the battery before any trip
Although this test can be done by a mechanic, you can check yourself for signs of corrosion on the terminals or for any signs of cracks or leaks. Replace or repair the battery immediately if there is something wrong with it.
Step 3. Activate the windshield wipers and sprinkler to make sure they work
Step 4. Check the air filter before a long trip, as it can affect fuel and engine efficiency
Step 5. Make sure the spare tire is inflated and the hydraulic jack and jumper cables are there
I also recommend that you check them periodically even when you are not going on a trip.