One of the most common factors car buyers take into consideration when searching for a new vehicle is the safety rating. Consumer Reports emphasizes this feature of their data and when vehicles that get high marks, the magazine is sure to let everyone know it. But what if you aren’t in the market for a new vehicle? Whether you have kids on board or you just want to make sure you are going to be safe driving back and forth to work, it’s a no-brainer that safety holds some importance to everyone. Following are five ways you can make sure your vehicle is operating safely.

1. Check your Headlights

The chance of you having an accident increases significantly when your lights are hard to see for other drivers. Check your lights periodically to make sure they aren’t burnt out and are fully functioning. Make sure the encasing is clean, as a dirty light interior can cause the light to be dimmed. Also, make sure your lights are properly aligned — if they are not, you may be at risk of “blinding” people while driving at night, making it difficult for them to see and creating a dangerous situation for you.

2. Keep Tires Updated

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to your vehicle is a tire blowout while you are speeding down a highway or interstate. You may also be at risk of slipping and sliding when driving in wet conditions because your tires have been worn down and don’t contain good enough grip. There are a variety of things that can go wrong with tires that haven’t been properly maintenance. To make sure your car is safe, keep all tires at the recommended pressure and regularly rotate and change them as needed.

3. Get your Brakes Inspected

Along with your tires, fully functioning brakes are imperative to keeping you and your passengers safe during drives. Old brakes can be the difference between slamming into someone and coming to a stop a few feet away from what could have been an accident. Make sure you are getting your brakes inspected at least once per year to ensure your vehicle is working as safely as possible.

4. Pay Attention to Child Seat Installation

Although this may not be a part of everyone’s car and certainly isn’t something every driver has to worry about, it is important enough to make this list. Vehicle accidents is the number one killer of children in the United States because parents or drivers of kids don’t properly secure their children. To keep your little ones safe, make sure to properly install the correct car seat for your child based on their age, height and weight. Each state also has their own child safety laws, so familiarize yourself with those to avoid penalties.

5. Keep up with Maintenance

It is never a good idea to let your vehicle run until you start experiencing something wrong with it. Check your owner’s manual to determine what needs to be updated and/or inspected when. Writing dates down on your calendar to remind you is a great way to ensure that you keep up with required maintenance. Doing so will keep your vehicle in tiptop shape and prevent you from experiencing any unforeseen issues.

These are just a few of the many ways to make sure your vehicle is running at an optimal safety level. By keeping up with various aspects of your car, practicing safe driving techniques, and staying informed about your vehicle, your chances of experiences an accident will significantly drop. Be safe, but enjoy that open road!

Written by Marc Laferierre, owner of Dents Unlimited. Dents Unlimited offers the best auto repair Columbia MO has to offer, where their expert staff can get your car back on the road in no time.