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Vehicle Safety Tips for Women On the Road

Updated on July 11, 2012


Most of the women I know are quite savvy when it comes to car repair or maintenance, they can wrench with the best guy-mechanics out there. I also know many women who have moderate skills in this field who can change the oil, fluids and a flat tire whenever necessary. Then there are those who remain as I once was, auto-challenged. Car care information—other than how to put fuel in the tank or put the car in neutral while rolling through the car-wash tunnel, simply does not compute. These women (or guys) have no idea how to keep themselves from being stranded on the highway and are unable to prevent a variety of troubles from popping-up from under the hood of their vehicles.

Baseball cap "Real Women Fix Their Own Trucks"
Baseball cap "Real Women Fix Their Own Trucks"

To some degree we can all manage to keep oil and fuel in the car and fill the tires with air. But, on the rare occasion we find ourselves in a situation where we must be our own rescuers, or our own survival expert when it comes to automotive mishaps. Because of this, a few pointers and tips on car care are in order. I will be offering you 10 tips (broken up in groups of 5) and some easy methods to quench the need to call for help in some of the more probable auto dilemmas.

A 73 Piece Premium Road Side Safety Kit



  1. Keep a small fire extinguisher under one of your front seats for easy access. This will prove to be very helpful should a fire break out under the hood or inside a tire.
  2. When checking your tire pressure be sure that the tire is cold. This simply means don't check the tire after you have been driving around. The friction of the tire rolling under the weight of the car causes the temperature of the air inside the tire to rise, thus expanding the volume of pressure. So, if you check the air after you have been driving around, the gauge will read a higher pressure than is actually inside the tire.
  3. Under inflated tires increase fuel consumption in your car. A newer smart-tire is now on the market to assist with this issue. It has internal sensors that gauge the pressure and life expectancy of the tire. The easy to read indicators help drivers to maintain optimal tire safety and fuel efficiency.
  4. If you live where the weather gets really cold and snowy with a big freeze, DO NOT set your parking break after driving in these conditions. The parking/emergency break is designed to activate the rear brakes. If snow or ice has gotten inside the brake it can cause the brakes to seize in that position over night if the temperature drops to freezing. It may also freeze the brake cable causing it to break or snap. Driving a car with the emergency brake on is just not a safe idea. If you park on a hill or incline, try turning the front tires inward towards the curb. This will help prevent the car from rolling as it will 'bump' into the curb and should stop any forward motion.
  5. If your car has a rough idle or stalls regularly then you want to have your mechanic look at it. You will more than likely still be able to cruise around with a rough idle and a stalling engine to some degree, but the problems you ignore become much more costly the longer you let them go unattended. Besides, she will be able to take care of the trouble more easily and in a far less costly manner the sooner you take it to her garage. Generally speaking, the earlier you bring the sickly car to her shop, the less likely your pocketbook is going to require a tune-up as well!

Has This Happened To You?

Which of these road emergencies has happened to you more than once?

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  1. When you turn on your vehicle air conditioning and a fog comes out, don't worry too much. It is cool moist vapor quickly turning into very cold fog and then pushing through the A/C vents. Think of it as the fog you notice when your breath turns to smoke while speaking when the weather is really cold. It shouldn't last long but you should lower your window a bit to clear it out more quickly just to be safe.
  2. The gasoline we use in our vehicles is formulated to prevent freezing. However when temperatures become extreme, below 0ºF (-18ºC) this may not be enough prevention. You can add "fuel-line antifreeze" to the gas tank to aide in starting your vehicle in these harsh conditions. Make certain to read and follow the manufactures directions on the bottle.
  3. To keep your car door and trunk lid locks from freezing this winter, spray the key with WD-40 and insert it into each of the locks turning the tumblers a couple of times. The oil will coat the tumblers inside and prevent moisture from building up in the locks and freezing you out.
  4. Stuck in the mud or struggling with the icy ground? Letting some of the air out of your tires will allow a larger portion of the tire surface to make contact with the ground, potentially making it easier to get your car moving under these conditions. Be sure to re- inflate your tires at the first possible chance. Low tire pressure can reduce fuel efficiency or even cause damage to your wheel (rims).
  5. Keep your fuel tank at least half-way full to prevent water vapor from building up inside the tank and along your fuel lines. This will keep your fuel flowing continually from tank to engine. A layer of minerals or sediment naturally gathers in the bottom of your tank over time. When the gas tank gets low (these days what gas tank isn't low), the materials get sent along with the gas into your engine. When moisture or sediments get into your engine they cause the car to idle rough or stall.

Deeper tire tread sluffs off water for better traction

water gets in the deep tread of the tire leaving more surface area against the road to prevent hydroplaning
water gets in the deep tread of the tire leaving more surface area against the road to prevent hydroplaning

Practicing Driving Safety Skills

During an on the road emergency is not the time to discover that you are not in control of the situation or the car! You will have a better chance for a positive outcome if you have practiced it in your head or behind the wheel of your parked car a few times. This could make the difference between getting to go home after the incident rather than arriving at the hospital in the back of an ambulance. Below you will find pointers for three common road troubles;

  • Skidding
  • Brake Failure
  • Hydroplaning


1). SKIDDING: When you feel your car begin to skid DO NOT SLAM ON THE BRAKES. This will probably be the first thing your mind tells you to do, it is only natural. You have to consciously fight this urge and conduct yourself in a life saving manner. DO ease up off of the accelerator. Using both hands turn the wheel in the same direction you want the nose of your car to travel in when the skid ceases. When the tires regain traction the car will travel in this direction. When the car is again going in the correct direction return the wheel back to center, being careful not to cause a second skid in another direction by over steering. Repeat the above steps if the car begins to skid again. This all happens in a very short span of time, split seconds even, so your reflexes play a huge role in the effectiveness of this maneuver. Be prepared for the car to skid more than once and in different directions. In other words plan on a couple of turns of the wheel to exit a skid when it occurs.

2). BRAKE FAILURE: This may occur if your brake fluid leaks out or gets contaminated. Brakes are a sealed hydraulic system that require pressure and hydraulic fluid to properly function. Brake failure happens when this system loses pressure. You press on your brake pedal feeling no pressure while the brake pedal drops directly to the floorboard. The car does not slow or stop~YIKES! Adrenaline may well be the biggest control issue for many in this situation. But you must stay calm. Remove your foot from the gas pedal keep both hands on the steering wheel. Stay alert and steer away from potential obstacles.Taking the parking brake lever with one hand (leaving the other hand on the steering wheel to guide the vehicle) begin pumping the parking brake. The car should slow gradually until you can force the transmission into park (or reverse). If this option fails, you must down-shift the car. If you're driving an automatic transmission vehicle you will need to go from 'D' to '2' and then to '1'. If you are in a standard transmission vehicle you can go into which ever gear you can to slow the car. Your parking brake and transmission may well be toast following this event, but you will be around to get them repaired!

What causes Hydroplaning - What happens when you hyroplane
What causes Hydroplaning - What happens when you hyroplane

3). HYDROPLANING: When rain or standing water beads up between your tires and the road your car begins to glide uncontrollably, which is called hydroplaning. This is one of the more dangerous situations to find yourself living out. The steering wheel feels loose, unresponsive and you have lost steering control of your forward moving vehicle...this is a very bad situation. Your best chance for an effective outcome is to lift your foot from the accelerator pedal and slow down. Do not put your foot on the brake. Continue driving at a slower speed keeping the car heading in the right direction as much as is possible (you may feel the car drifting, but don't freak out). As the car slows down the weight becomes more dense and gravity will push the vehicle tighter to the road surface, allowing you to gain back some steering control. Eventually the car will return completely back to your control.

Should the rain or weather becomes far to heavy, you need to pull off of the road into a rest stop, gas station or any other populated location. If nothing is around pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights so other drivers can see you. When the rain subsides continue safely on your way. Something worth mentioning is that deep-tread tires slough-off the excess water while low tread or worn tires trap the water, increasing the hydroplaning probability. Keep your tires in good condition and run on the proper tire for the season, these can help prevent hydroplaning from slipping into your driver seat.


Take a few minutes (or more) to practice these responses to hazardous events before driving your car. The time you put into adding these safety measures to your driving repertoire may well be the thing that brings you and your loved ones home from a simple Sunday drive.

Never allow your dog to hang his head outside of your moving vehicle. Debris, rocks or large bugs can hurt or possibly kill him.
Never allow your dog to hang his head outside of your moving vehicle. Debris, rocks or large bugs can hurt or possibly kill him.

Keeping your parts your parts while Driving

Records show that severe injuries have and do occur while a driver or passenger allow their hand to "float in the wind" outside of a moving car. It is a really neat feeling and even relaxing on long drives to play the "flying hand game." However it is recommended that you keep your limbs inside the car, thus keeping your parts, your parts and attached to the rest of you. Even if the worst does not happen (sudden limb amputation) a rock or debris can potentially strike you causing pain or a real injury.

This holds true for your pets as well. A dog loves to throw his snout into the rushing wind as it streams in at sixty miles an hour while traveling down the highway. This is an accident waiting to happen. Unless you have your pet fitted for a safety helmet, just don't allow it. Ask any motorcycle rider what it feels like to get struck in the face by a itsy-bitsy gnat at sixty-plus...even this tiny insect makes for a big impact. Anything larger and the outcome can be quite bad. The point is this; keep you, your passengers, and pets, inside your moving vehicle at all times!


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