Audi Recalling E-Trons Due To Fire Risk

Laguna Hills, CA – June 18, 2019 – Around 1,600 Audi E-Tron EV vehicles are being recalled after the model’s parent company, Volkswagen Group of America, learned some of the vehicles may have defective seals that could compromise its battery system, should moisture leak inside. In such a scenario, the battery could pose a fire hazard. Although Audi hasn’t determined when specifically it will inform owners of this issue, it expects to do so before June concludes. The component necessary to resolve the problem will likely arrive in August, which dealers will install for free.

The Defect

Volkswagen Group, which owns Audi, says it’s recalling 1,644 2019 Audi E-Trons due to a sealant issue that affects the electric vehicle’s propulsion system, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It turns out that the seal meant to prevent moisture from coming into contact with the high-voltage battery may be damaged, an issue that likely occurred during the assembly process. If rain, snow or other types of wetness gets in between the battery charging socket and other components of the voltage system, it raises the risk of an engine fire. However, neither Audi nor its parent company are aware of any such events thus far.

Moisture leaking into the battery would be virtually impossible to detect on its own, but the onboard computer will alert motorists to this problem before it becomes a potential safety issue, with a message on the dashboard panel that warns of an electrical fault or failure. Audi says that motorists should stop driving immediately if they receive this warning and to contact roadside assistance.

Timeline of Events

Mechanical issues often come to light from motorists themselves by reaching out to the automaker or NHTSA, but this one was recognized by Audi during quality control testing. It found two instances in February 2019 where the charging units failed to function. This led to follow-up investigation, which determined in mid-March that the problem likely originated from a faulty seal that exposed the charging socket to moisture.

Analysts’ suspicions were confirmed when customers alerted Audi to instances in which they received “check engine” warnings on their display panels above the steering wheel. Mechanics for Audi reached out to one of the owners who experienced this issue and found that moisture was the likely culprit. This prompted the dispatching of Audi’s Product Safety Committee, which began its inquiry in mid-April and concluded the review June 3. It confirmed that, although unlikely, a fire could ignite if moisture from the charging socket made its way onto the high-voltage battery. Audi subsequently informed NHTSA of the voluntary recall.

The Solution

Audi says it will make E-Tron owners aware of this issue before the end of June so they can have their vehicles examined. Dealers will diagnose whether the sealant happens to be compromised and install a corrective grommet to prevent moisture from coming into contact with the battery. As per usual, the fix will be provided free of charge.

Audi customers can contact customer service at 1-800-253-2834 for more information on this recall. Alternatively, visit MotorSafety.org and enter your 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if this or any other recall affects you.

Sean ReyesAudi Recalling E-Trons Due To Fire Risk

Certain Recalled F-150s May Need Another Fix, Ford Says

Laguna Hills, CA – June 18, 2019 – Tens of thousands of F-150s – consistently the best-selling vehicle in America – are being recalled by the Ford Motor Company due to flaws within the truck’s powertrain control module, which may cause the vehicle to downshift without warning. The unexpectedness of such a scenario may reduce a driver’s ability to maintain control of the car, thus increasing the risk of a crash and resulting injury. This latest recall is a follow-up to one that occurred in March over a similar issue.

Owners are urged to bring their trucks back to the dealer so a free fix can be scheduled, which will likely involve a reprogramming or full-scale replacement of the PCM. Motorists will be notified officially no later than June 24 by first-class mail.

The Defect

As corroborated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford is recalling 107,857 2013 F-150 trucks due to malfunctions with the powertrain control module, which were first brought to the attention of the automaker in 2016 and have since resulted in a number of follow-up investigations. In fact, certain 2011-2013 F-150s were recalled over PCM issues back in February, only that one involved over 1.2 million vehicles. The concern at the time was the potential for these trucks to suddenly downshift to a lower gear, even though motorists may be traveling at a high speed – which would, under normal circumstances, prevent that from happening.

The difference between this latest fault and the one discovered in February is the software used to reprogram the PCM wasn’t the latest version, so the initial configuration may not have worked. In essence, this latest recall is to correct the original.

If motorists are operating an adversely affected F-150, they may experience a reduction in speed out of nowhere. This could raise the risk of an accident, particularly on the highway where other motorists are driving at 65 miles per hour and over. Speed is consistently the leading factor in car crashes, according to NHTSA.

Timeline of Events

On May 16, a technician alerted Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group that certain 2013 F-150s whose powertrains were reprogrammed may not have been fixed with the appropriate software updates in place. To determine those involved, Ford launched an investigation and concluded that the corrections weren’t applied to trucks with 5.0 and 6.2 liter engines. Thus, those that were recalled initially would need to be recalled again, which Ford’s Field Review Committee authorized on June 3. The company believes potentially as many as 100% of the 107,857 F-150s may still have PCMs that weren’t appropriately calibrated, assuming motorists brought them to their dealer when they were first informed of the glitch.

The Ford F-Series commands quite the presence in the automotive world. In 2017, more than 896,000 trucks were sold nationwide, according to Business Insider, its best-selling year on record, which dates back to 1977. It’s consistently the top-seller of all models in the U.S. – a feat reached for 36 years running. This may explain why this and the original recall affected so many.

The Solution

Ford says that the recall will get underway officially on June 24, when owners will be notified of the issue by mail. Motorists are urged to bring their truck back to an authorized Ford dealer for a fresh PCM reprogramming. Like the original – and virtually all safety recalls – the service is complimentary.

For more information on this recall, owners have several options. They can contact by phone, dialing 1-866-436-7332, which is Ford’s toll-free hotline. Alternatively, check MotorSafety.org by entering the truck’s VIN in the designated field.

Sean ReyesCertain Recalled F-150s May Need Another Fix, Ford Says

Another Air Bag Issue For BMW Owners

Laguna Hills, CA – June 17, 2019 – BMW of North America seeks to recall nearly 2,000 X7 xDrive 40i and X7 xDrive50i models after learning that some of these vehicles may have head air bags errantly installed As a result, their deployment after a crash may result in injury or exacerbate the resulting effects. The German automaker advises owners of these SUVs to take their vehicles to their local BMW dealer to determine if a repair is necessary. If so, it will be arranged free of charge. The correction may involve entirely removing the air bag system and replacing with a new one or repair the existing air bag.

The Defect

In official paperwork filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, BMW is recalling 1,822 SUVs, specifically 2019 X7 xDrive40i and X7 xDrive50i.

The German automaker says that the head air bags – installed within the wheel on the driver’s side and the dashboard for the passenger – may be out of alignment with the vehicle trim. The issue is not with the air bag itself but rather improper installation.

Because they weren’t loaded according to the manufacturer’s specified instructions, the air bags may not inflate correctly, thereby increasing the risk of head injury during a crash, the impact of which triggers deployment. BMW says it’s taking this step out of an abundance of caution, believing that only 1% of the potentially safety compromised SUVs contain the flaw.

This is the second voluntary recall for BMW in as many weeks, as close to 1,700 2-Series, 3-Series and 4-Series vehicles are being pulled from the marketplace because of damaged passenger knee air bags.

Timeline of Events

The air bag failing first came to BMW’s attention during a quality control check at the automaker’s Westwood, New Jersey-based assembly plant. Two SUVs were identified as suspect. This led to a follow-up to see if other model xDrive 2019 models were potentially compromised. Review of the relevant paperwork suggested that if other vehicles contain a similar flaw, the number was minimal. The investigation also helped BMW determine that any subsequent offending models were produced between Nov. 5, 2018 and April 3, 2019. The company says it’s unaware of any accidents or injuries tracing back to this issue, but nevertheless decided to make the recall notice official on May 16. NHTSA notified BMW of its desire to do so on June 10 and gave the company the go ahead.

The Solution

Starting on July 15, BMW will reach out to xDrive owners by first-class mail about the possibility their air bag may be impaired and what they can do to address this issue. The simplest solution is taking their car to an authorized dealership, who can diagnose whatever happens to be the problem and fix. The remedy will be free, as is normally the case for safety recalls that are voluntary or mandatory.

Dial 1-800-525-7417, BMW’s customer service hotline, for more information on this recall. You can also enter your VIN at MotorSafety.org to see if your model is subject to this or any other safety recall.

Sean ReyesAnother Air Bag Issue For BMW Owners

Over 17,000 Mazda3s recalled due to flawed indicator lights

Laguna Hills, CA – June 14, 2019 – Mazda North American Operations is recalling certain 2019 Mazda3 units because some of the onboard notification systems – specifically air bag activation and seat belt use – may provide incorrect information while motorists are driving their vehicles. An investigation determined that the indicator lights may not illuminate when they’re supposed to, which could increase the risk of injury by ill informing drivers of the passenger safety situation.

Mazda has alerted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to this issue and plans on officially informing affected drivers starting no later than July 13 by first-class mail. Drivers are urged to take their vehicles to their local Mazda dealer so the proper corrections can be installed as necessary. The repair will be free, as is typically the case for safety recalls.

The Defect

Approximately 17,000 Mazda3 vehicles – model year 2019 – are due for recall because of a programming error that affects the indicator lights on the automobile’s dashboard, according to paperwork filed with NHTSA. Under normal circumstances, when an airbag is deactivated, the symbol representing this feature illuminates. The seatbelt status also lights up if someone in the automobile is not buckled in. However, some of the affected Mazda3s may erroneously turn off, suggesting that a passenger has his or her seatbelt on when the opposite is true. Similarly, the airbag deactivation signal may not shine when it ought to.

Accurate information is crucial to driver safety so the false impression of seat belt adherence or air bag deployment could increase the risk of injury. According to NHTSA, close to 90% of Americans say they wear their seat belts regularly. In 2017, an estimated 14,955 people avoided a potentially fatal accident thanks to buckling up. During this same year, over 2,500 would likely be alive today had they worn their seat belts in a deadly crash.

Timeline of Events

Valentine’s Day proved to be the starting date for when Mazda was alerted to the air bag illumination glitch. Worried that this flaw was more than an isolated incident, the automaker performed follow-up to determine the genesis of the flaw, which Mazda was able to determine on March 1. By March 23, the appropriate fix was applied to all Mazda3 models built thereafter. It nonetheless concluded that 2019 models built between Sept. 25, 2018 and March 23 could be affected, prompting the recall order of 17,016 Mazda3 vehicles.  However, in a statement released June 8, Mazda says the recall order affects 16,982 Mazda3s.

The Solution

While Mazda dealers have already been alerted to the situation, the company expects to inform Mazda3 owners by July 13, according to NHTSA documents. Drivers are advised to take their automobile to an authorized Mazda dealer so the indicator assembly system can be repaired or replaced. The fix is free, as are most safety recalls.

For additional details, you can enter your VIN at MotorSafety.org to see if your car is included in the recall, which the company says is exclusive to 2019 Mazda3s.

Sean ReyesOver 17,000 Mazda3s recalled due to flawed indicator lights

Air Bag Deployment Glitch Triggers Recall of 5,000 BMWs

Laguna Hills, CA – June 14, 2019 – BMW of North America is recalling thousands of 2019-2020 model years passenger vehicles due to a potential air bag flaw that may alter the manner in which it deploys. Specifically, the defect affects the knee air bag assemblies, which may have been errantly folded at some point in the manufacturing process. It’s possible that the air bag may not uncoil completely after a collision, raising the risk of injury.

The recall is expected to begin on July 2 and owners of the affected models are advised to take their automobiles off the roads so they can be serviced – for free – by a licensed BMW dealership.

The Defect

BMW says its pulling 5,079 automobiles from the marketplace – of which include coupes, convertibles and sports wagons – due to improper installation of the knee air bags that are meant to protect the driver as well as the front-seated passenger, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The models include 230I, 330I, 430I, 440I, M2, M240I and M4. Their model years are 2019 and 2020 (the 330I is for 2019 only). It seems that the knee air bag modules, which were manufactured by Joyson Safety Systems, may have been loaded into the vehicles’ housing systems incorrectly. This could prevent the air bag from inflating properly upon impact in a crash that triggers them. Injury may result in such a scenario to the driver, passenger or both.

Timeline of Events

The problem first came to the attention of BMW in mid April. At the time, components manufacturer Joyson Safety Systems alerted the automaker that some of the air bags in several 2019-2020 may have been damaged during compliance testing. JSS came to this conclusion after performing additional examinations to see if the flaw was isolated or potentially widespread. Ultimately, the air bag manufacturer determined that at least several of the knee air bags were not adequately packed in the housing unit.

BMW concluded that it was best to err on the side of caution and initiated a voluntary recall on May 2, which entailed alerting NHTSA to the issue. There are no known injuries that trace back to this flaw.

The Solution

BMW says that it plans on notifying owners by July 2 about the potential problem and will encourage them to have the issue looked at the same place they bought their automobile. If not there, at a licensed BMW dealership. As per usual, the fix will come at no cost to drivers. It may be that a repair is unnecessary, as only about 13% of the recalled models are believed to have the defect. In paperwork filed with NHTSA, BMW suspects that the 4 series coupe models are most likely to be the ones affected, as 2,357 of these vehicles were equipped with knee airbag modules, compared to just 154 for the BMW 3 series sports wagon.

The NHTSA campaign number relating to this recall is 19V-352. Find out more at MotorSafety.org.

Sean ReyesAir Bag Deployment Glitch Triggers Recall of 5,000 BMWs

2011-2013 Mazda6 Under Recall Due to Corrosion

Laguna Hills, CA – June 12, 2019 – Mazda says its recalling over 49,300 Mazda6 sedans due to the potential of a steering failure caused by corrosion developed over time due to the damaging effects of road salt, frequently spread on highways and streets to improve traction during the winter months. The model years for the affected vehicles are 2011 through 2013 and involve sedans sold or registered in 22 states as well as the District of Columbia. The concern is that excessive jostling of the impacted automobiles may adversely affect power-steering function and front crossbar, thus increasing the risk of an accident.

2011-2013 Mazda6 owners are urged to bring their vehicles to their nearest Mazda dealership so a repair can be arranged free of charge. The fix will likely involve the restoration or replacement of a drain hose and front cross member.

The Defect

According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mazda is recalling certain Mazda6 sedans from the aforementioned model years due to concerns that the front cross member of the vehicle, which is found on the underside and involved in a car’s transmission functionality, may be vulnerable to depredation caused by road salt. The flaw may also adversely impact the sedan’s power steering, thus increasing the risk of a crash and/or injury to occupants. NHTSA investigators believe that the front cross member may not be applied with the proper amount of seal coating designed to protect the underbelly from the corrosive effects of road salt.

Since the source of the safety issue is known – road salt – NHTSA is confining the recall to so-called “salt belt” states,” which include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia West Virginia and Wisconsin. 2011-2013 Mazda6’s sold or registered in the District of Columbia are also included in the recall order. The automobiles in question were likely manufactured between Feb. 4, 2008 and Aug. 24, 2012.

Timeline of Events

The latest recall is actually an expansion of one that involved 2009-2010 Mazda6 autos. But on Sept. 14, 2018, the company decided to include sedans with model years 2011 through 2013 after dozens of complaints from drivers describing the same problems that led to the original recall. By Jan. 11, 2019, Transport Canada had reached out to Mazda as well, citing corrosion affecting the steering components of Mazda6 sedans. An audit committee meeting, held April 22, determined that the best course of action was to recall all Mazda6 registered or sold in the salt belt states between early February 2008 and late August 2012.

The Solution

Mazda says that no later than June 24, the company – in consultation with NHTSA – will reach out to owners of the affected vehicles by first-class mail to inform them of the potential safety issue and recommend they take their sedans back to the dealership to be properly examined. If it’s determined that their vehicle is vulnerable to corrosion – or if the adverse effects of such damage are already apparent – mechanics will swap out the appropriate parts: most likely the front cross member. This repair will be complimentary, as is often standard with recall actions.

For more information on the recall order, visit MotorSafety.org and enter your VIN in the appropriate field.

Sean Reyes2011-2013 Mazda6 Under Recall Due to Corrosion

Chrysler Recalls Ram 1500s Due To Restraint System Errors

Laguna Hills, CA – June 10, 2019 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles LLC (FCA) is pulling nearly 300,000 Ram 1500 trucks – model years 2019 and 2020 – from the marketplace due to an onboard software flaw that may prevent the vehicle’s air bag from deploying in the aftermath of a crash, thus increasing the risk of injury. The automobile’s seat belt pretensioners may also fail to function due to the tech defect. The company says it will reach out to Ram 1500 owners by mail later this summer, advising them to take their trucks to their nearest Chrysler dealership so repair work can be arranged. The fix will come at no cost to drivers.

The Defect

According to documents submitted to and produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 295,981 2019-2020 Ram 1500s are due for recall because the truck’s occupant restraint controller (ORC) system may not work properly in the event of a traffic accident. Specifically, the issue seems to affect the ORC’s flash memory, in which the computer module doesn’t reset as it’s supposed to when powering down the vehicle. This reset failure could then prevent the airbags and/or seat-belt pretensioners from operating correctly in a collision-related event.

In a statement acknowledging that the company is aware of the problem, FCA said that while they are making this move out of an abundance of caution, the chances that such a scenario occurs for motorists is highly unlikely.

“Data collected by FCA US indicate the potential for such an event is highly remote,” the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based manufacturer said in a press release. “Further, the Company is unaware of any related injuries or accidents.”

Timeline of Events

The issue came to FCA’s attention April 8, when an engineer on the manufacturer’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance team observed a corrupted software notification that occurred when turning off the truck. A formal investigation by Fiat Chrysler occurred in the immediate aftermath, which extended to May 3. The inquiry determined that the flaw had the potential to prevent the seatbelt pretensioner or airbags from serving their purpose during an accident. However, through May 20, the company wasn’t aware of any operator complaints or injuries that occurred – in the U.S. or elsewhere – related to the software glitch. This may be due to the fact that many of the affected automobiles – up to 33% – are still at dealerships, yet to be purchased by would-be operators. Those impacted were likely assembled at some point between Oct. 31, 2018 and April 29, 2019.

FCA deemed it appropriate that a voluntary recall be ordered for the Ram 1500s, which is what prompted the safety notification to NHTSA.

The Solution

On June 1, FCA sent out letters to dealerships, informing them of the problem and that 2019-2020 Ram 1500s should be set aside for the time being. Current operators will also be made aware of the glitch, which is slated to begin on July 20. Owners are urged to bring their trucks to their nearest FCA dealer so the ORC can either be reprogrammed or replaced, whichever fix is deemed appropriate by the attending mechanics. This repair will be free of charge.

To learn more, dial 1-888-327-4236, which is NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline. You can also enter your VIN at MotorSafety.org to see if your make and model is under recall.

Sean ReyesChrysler Recalls Ram 1500s Due To Restraint System Errors

Glass Mix–Up Prompts Recall of GM Vans

Laguna Hills, CA – June 7, 2019 – Over a thousand Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vehicles with model years 2016 to 2019 produced by General Motors LLC, are due to be recalled as a result of the possible wrong installation of tempered glass in the automobiles’ rear windows. The vans were meant to be installed with laminated glass, which tend to be more resistant to shattering, but instead feature tempered glass. In the event of a serious accident – such as a rollover – the tendency of tempered glass to explode increases the risk of injury. GM intends to send out advisories to owners of these vehicles, urging them to take the automobiles to their nearest GM dealer for a free repair. It’s unclear as of yet when those notifications will begin.

The Defect

According to documentation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, General Motors is recalling an estimated 1,159 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans, whose model years range between 2016 and 2019. An internal investigation determined that some of these automobiles may have been installed with tempered glass, described as such because they’re reinforced with heat to strengthen their resilience. While tempered glass has more safety properties than standard glass, laminated glass – the type the vehicles are meant to have – has an extra layer of vinyl, which enables the glass to hold its shape more effectively in the event of a crash. This also helps prevent the potential of ejection from the vehicle should motorists not have their seatbelts on during an accident.

Because the vehicles in question do not comply with Number 226 of the government’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which relates to ejection mitigation, GM has decided to pull the 1,150+ vans from the marketplace so that tempered glass can be swapped out with laminated where necessary.

Timeline of Events

The flaw in question came to the attention of General Motors March 18 of this year, when an engineer for the company happened to notice that both a Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana had rear-quarter windows installed with tempered glass instead of the correct laminated type. The engineer made the company aware of the flaw through its Speak Up For Safety, which was formally launched in 2014 and serves as a “see something say something” outlet for GM employees when something is amiss.

A formal investigation was launched roughly a week after the engineer first spotted the flaw, and concluded May 13. GM’s Field Action Decision Authority determined as a result of the findings that some of the cars in question may indeed fail to comply with the ejection mitigation rule established by NHTSA and recommended a recall.

The Solution

Although GM has not yet determined when notifications will be distributed, it intends to inform owners of 2016-2019 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana to bring their automobiles back to any GM dealer so the proper glass can be installed. The fix will come at no charge to owners. For more information, visit MotorSafety.org or contact GM’s customer service department at 1-586-596-1733. The recall number is N192218960.

Sean ReyesGlass Mix–Up Prompts Recall of GM Vans

Ram 1500 Trucks Up For Recall Due To Flawed Driveshafts

Laguna Hills, CA – June 7, 2019 – Thousands of Ram 1500 pickup trucks, model years 2018 and 2019, are under recall notice by Fiat Chrysler because the installed rear driveshaft may be compromised and at risk of fracturing. This could cause the component to physically fall from the vehicle, which trailing motorists could hit, potentially resulting in a crash or injury. The detachment of the driveshaft would also cause the vehicle to lose power, increasing the operator and passengers’ risk for injury as well due to an accident. 

FCA says it will notify owners, starting on June 15, of the potential component failure. Motorists can get their driveshaft replaced free of charge by taking their automobile to any authorized Chrysler dealership.

The Defect

According to paperwork filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 10,160 Ram 1500 pickup trucks, whose model years range between 2018 and 2019. An investigation determined that the vehicle’s rear driveshaft, a component whose main responsibility is to power the engine through the transmission of torque, may be vulnerable to fracturing due to an improper weld fusion that connects the driveshaft’s tube and its tube yoke.

The progressive nature of this cracking could cause the component to break away from the vehicle and fall into the road, becoming a hazard and potential source of an accident for other motorists. It could also cause Ram 1500 operators to lose control of their automobile due to a sudden loss in power, which may also raise the risk of a crash.

Because the component is underneath the vehicle, it’s virtually impossible to know whether the part is compromised. However, Fiat Chrysler says that unusual noise or vibrations emanating from beneath the vehicle may presage the fracturing.

Timeline of Events

The issue came to the attention of Fiat Chrysler’s vehicle safety and regulatory compliance office in August 2018 when the company received six warranty claims – all submitted within a month of one another – each of which complained of broken driveshafts. Days later when the driveshafts were examined, they all had the same issue – an incomplete weld fusion. No other flaws were found in follow-up inquiries, which concluded in January. Later than month and into February, however, FCA was informed of additional driveshaft failures, which, unlike the original six, occurred at mileages greater than 5,000. A more thorough investigation that transpired in March and April determined that the failures were isolated incidents but that the similar nature of the driveshaft flaws warranted a voluntary recall. FCA says it’s unaware of any actual accidents or injuries stemming from these incidents.

The Solution

Although the recall is not mandatory, FCA recommends that operators and owners of 2018-2019 Ram 1500s err on the side of caution and take their vehicles to their nearest Chrysler dealer so a fix can be scheduled. If necessary, the driveshaft will be replaced at no expense for neither parts nor labor. For additional specifics on this recall, contact FCA’s customer service department at 1-800-853-1403. The recall order is classified as V48. Entering your VIN at MotorSafety.org can help as well.

Sean ReyesRam 1500 Trucks Up For Recall Due To Flawed Driveshafts

How to Tune Up Your Driving Skills and Banish Bad Road Habits


Article contributed by guest blogger Mark Connor of DriveSafely.info

When it comes to driving, there’s always room for improvement. We can all benefit from refreshing our road knowledge and reviewing the driving practices that keep us safe. After all, the best way to make our roads safer is to become better drivers ourselves. So, whether you’re just learning how to drive or you’ve been at it for a while, check out these tips to tune up your skills.

Understand Your Car’s Limits

Take some time to research the pros and cons of your vehicle so you can drive more efficiently and avoid getting yourself into dangerous situations. For example, because Ford Mustangs are designed to provide an entertaining driving experience, people often drive them carelessly at high speeds and increase the risk of an accident occurring. While Mustangs tend to guzzle gas, recent models have an independent rear suspension to keep the car stable on uneven surfaces. On the other hand, Jeep Wranglers have less-than-ideal aerodynamics and slower steering, so they tend not to be the best vehicle selection for those long road trips. However, Jeeps are great for driving in inclement weather conditions.

Check Your Hand Position

Exactly where you grip the steering wheel may seem irrelevant to your safety on the road, but incorrect hand positioning leads to inefficient steering techniques—one of the main driver errors that cause accidents. Keep your hands at nine and three for the optimal combination of control and safety. Use your fingers to turn the wheel, and never grip it from the inside. Correct hand placement on the wheel will also keep your arms out of the airbag path.

Keep a Safe Following Distance

Following a vehicle at a safe distance is essential for stopping safely if something happens on the road up ahead. Smart Motorist recommends staying two full seconds behind the car in front of you under most driving conditions. If you’re driving in bad weather, consider leaving six to nine seconds of distance.

Stick to Speed Limits

Everyone knows that speeding is dangerous. However, many of us think that speeding will get us to our destinations more quickly. In reality, driving over the limit will only shave mere minutes off your commute time. So, try to slow down and stick to speed limits to reduce your likelihood of getting in an accident. By driving more slowly, you’ll also reduce strain on your car.

Put Your Phone in the Back Seat

Distracted driving causes 9 deaths every day. Any activities that take your attention away from the road can increase your risk of experiencing a crash. Some common driving distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating, personal grooming and checking maps. If you have trouble putting the phone down, keep it in the back seat where you can’t reach it. Planning your route ahead of time can also keep you off your phone.

Don’t Drive Drowsy

As sleep deprivation becomes the norm for the busy public, it’s clear that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsy driving impairs our reaction times and decision-making skills. Lack of sleep, illness and certain medications can cause us to feel drowsy behind the wheel, endangering ourselves and everyone else on the road. Whenever you drive, look out for signs that you’re too drowsy to operate a vehicle—such as continuous yawning, memory lapses, or drifting out of your lane. If you ever notice these symptoms, consider calling a friend to pick you up. Alternatively, AAA recommends pulling over for a 20-minute nap to recover some energy.

Practice Driving in Tough Conditions

Although we have control over our own driving habits, we can’t do much about the weather. We can, however, learn how to drive in snow, sleet, rain, fog and wind so we can avoid accidents when the weather gets rough. Consider taking a specialty driver’s training course for bad-weather driving. These programs teach students how to maneuver in rain and navigate hills and corners in icy conditions.

You’re never too old to brush up on safe driving habits. Even if you’re a great driver, you never know how other people on the road are going to behave. Driving defensively and avoiding bad habits yourself is the best way to stay safe out there.

About the Author:

This article was contributed by the founder of DriveSafely.info, Mark Connor.  Connor created DriveSafely.info after his son, who has ADHD, started driving. He hopes to raise awareness about important driving habits that can save lives by encouraging teens and adults alike to make good decisions behind the wheel.  

Mark ConnorHow to Tune Up Your Driving Skills and Banish Bad Road Habits