Heading out on an out-of-town vacation or a quick grocery trip? Wherever you'll drive to, make it a habit to inspect your car before taking it out of the garage. It's impossible to check every nook and cranny of your four-wheeled machine when you're rushing to your destination. But minding your BLOWBAGETS checklist before driving off will keep you and your passengers safe on the road.
By always checking everything in your BLOWBAGETS checklist, you won't have to worry about breaking down in the middle of the road or getting a flat tire. And if you're wondering what BLOWBAGETS means, let's break it down for you with this car check before you drive.
What is the Meaning of BLOWBAGETS?
BLOWBAGETS means battery, lights, oil, water, brake, air, gas, engine, tire, and self. It's a serious reminder about checking your car before driving to prevent an accident or breakdown. We have the PNP-Highway Patrol Group to thank for this handy mnemonic.
BLOWBAGETS Checklist: 10 Things You Must Check Before Driving
Let's go through the important items in this list that every motorist must know before starting the car and going out on the road. BLOWBAGETS in driving can keep you safe, avoid road inconveniences, and most importantly, save your life.
Your car won't start with a dead battery, of course. Or it will, until it runs out of battery in the middle of nowhere, leaving you stranded or struck on the side of the road.
This is a situation you don't want to be in, especially at night or during bad weather and you're traveling with your young kids or senior parents. So before you get in your car, make sure your battery has a strong charge, clean terminals, and proper cable-to-terminal connection.
Car batteries typically last for three to four years. Even though you don’t use your car a lot, its battery can still get drained. Over time, you’ll end up with a dead battery if you don’t do something to extend its lifespan.
So if you have a trickle charger or smart charger at home, use it to charge your battery. If you’re driving just occasionally, disconnect the negative terminal first and then the positive terminal. Wear protective gloves while doing this. Don’t touch the two terminals at the same time.
And if you’re not using your car at all, just remove the entire battery. Don't forget to replace it if it's almost near the end of its service life.
Fully functioning auto lights are a safety must-have for nighttime driving. However, their bulbs burn out or get defective over time. This is why you have to inspect your car's lights regularly.
Test your headlights, turn signals, brake lights, reverse lights, and tail lights in the garage. The light beam should reflect on the wall. To confirm if the lights are working properly, ask someone to stand in front and then behind the car as you operate the lights.
Check also your lights for dirt, cracks, and breakage. If you spot any, have your lights cleaned or fixed.
Your car needs oil to lubricate all engine components. Too little oil is bad for your engine—it can cause wear and tear on its moving parts. When your vehicle runs out of oil, your engine will stop working, and you'll be dealing with expensive auto repair shop bills.
Check your engine's oil level and color. When the oil is below the minimum level, it's time to refill. Look also for leaks as they're a sign that your car is quickly losing oil.
Keeping your oil fresh is also a must, especially if your car had been left unused for a long period. Changing oil gets rid of contaminants that can damage the engine. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to change oil. If DIY oil change isn’t possible, try to find a mechanic who can do it for you.
Overheating is every motorist's worst nightmare. A simple check of the water in your radiator will save you from this road disaster.
It also helps to have several one-liter bottles of water in your trunk, just in case your car overheats while you're driving and you need to put water in the radiator to cool the engine down.
Faulty brakes are a disaster waiting to happen. Lower your chance of meeting a road accident—ensure that your brake system is working properly before you take your car out of the garage.
Push the brake pedal all the way to the floor. It shouldn't feel spongy and have little to no resistance. Otherwise, it isn't safe to drive when the brakes are weak.
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Next on the BLOWBAGETS checklist is air. Are your tires properly inflated? Keep the right tire pressure to prevent accidents and decreased fuel economy. Tires, regardless if they're old or new, lose air over time. This problem isn't easy to detect with the naked eye—you'll need to use a tire pressure gauge. Check the tires also for nails and other sharp objects that puncture them.
Especially during long drives, a full gas tank is important. Imagine how troublesome it would be if you run out of fuel while you're stuck in traffic or driving along the road where a gas station is nowhere in sight.
Keeping your gas tank full also prevents moisture buildup in the tank, which may lead to eventual problems in the fuel delivery system. Furthermore, it keeps gasoline fumes from accumulating to dangerous levels. So don't forget to check your fuel level through the fuel gauge before you take your car out for a drive.
Read more: 8 Driving Tips to Save Gas and Improve Your Fuel Economy
It's better to detect an engine problem before you drive off rather than deal with it in the middle of the road. Check for leaks that indicate an engine problem. Also, start the engine and listen to its sound. If you hear pinging, tapping, knocking, or any weird noise, better have a mechanic check your engine.
Driving with worn-out tires can lead to a fatal accident. So before you leave for a road trip, spend a few minutes to check your tires for bulges, bumps, tears, and other signs of damage.
To check your tire tread depth, insert a coin into the tire's grooves. If you can see much of the coin's outer band, that means the grooves are already shallow, and you need new tires soon.
No travel plans anytime soon? Make sure the tires are sufficiently inflated because they can still lose air even if your car isn’t moving for a long time. If you don't, your car’s fuel consumption and handling performance will suffer.
Use a tire pressure gauge to ensure they’re at the recommended pressure level. Add more air when necessary if you have a portable air compressor at home. If you don’t have the tools, you can have your tires inflated on your next trip to the gas station.
Last on the BLOWBAGETS checklist is self. Human error is the leading cause of road accidents in Metro Manila. In fact, a report from the Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System cites fatigue, sleepiness, drunkenness, and medical problems like asthma and dizziness as examples.
Are you physically and emotionally fit to drive today? Check yourself! If you're sick, dizzy, tired, sleepy, or drunk, you better let somebody else take over the steering wheel.
Driving under extreme emotional stress is also dangerous because you'll lose concentration on the road. So avoid driving when you're emotional.
Also, check your documents before you hit the road. Your driver's license, LTO registration papers, and proof of comprehensive insurance should be within reach when you get pulled over on your trip.
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Sharing is caring! Share this BLOWBAGETS checklist with your loved ones to remind them about car maintenance and safe driving. When you know all the things to check before driving, you can drive with peace of mind and the reassurance that your vehicle is in good condition.
Do this mandatory check every time, whether or not you're traveling with your family and kids, and whether you're going on a road trip or doing a quick visit to the supermarket. Make safe driving always a priority!