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Pre-drive Vehicle Inspection

To safely enter your vehicle and prepare it for safe and efficient operation, perform the pre-driving checklists below every time you prepare for a drive.

Approaching the Vehicle

  • Have your keys in hand before approaching your car or entering a parking area. If you have a keyless-entry remote with a panic alarm button, keep it in your hand, with your finger above the activation button.
  • Be alert to other pedestrians and drivers.
  • Look between, beneath and around objects to both sides as you approach your vehicle for signs of movement.
  • Make sure other drivers see you. Walk well away from parked vehicles.
  • If your vehicle is parked at the curb, face traffic as you approach the driver’s door.

Outside the Vehicle

  • Check around the vehicle for obstacles that might interfere with its safe movement.
  • Check the driveway, parking area or street for children or other pedestrians. Several hundred children are killed each year by vehicles backing up.
  • Inspect the headlights, windshield, side and rear windows, turn signals, brake lights and taillights. If necessary, clean and replace items that are broken or not working properly.
  • Visually inspect your tires for obvious signs of a problem and notice which direction the front wheels are pointed. Check tire pressures at least once each month, because visual inspection alone may not reveal an improperly inflated tire.
  • Check under the vehicle for fluid leaks.
  • Look inside the vehicle before entering, especially the back seat, to improve your safety and protect yourself against carjacking.

If you’re comfortable doing so, check under the hood under normal driving conditions at least once a month or as recommended in your vehicle owner’s manual. Failure to conduct inspections can lead to unsafe operating conditions and costly repairs. Consult your owner’s manual to verify what components should be on your checklist.

AAA recommends inspecting the following as you prepare for a drive:

  • Engine oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Drive belts
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power-steering fluid
  • Battery

If you do not wish to inspect the above items, AAA recommends taking your vehicle to a local AAA Approved Auto Repair facility to have a technician perform the checks.