A smiling woman with glasses follows a checklist before starting a car, driving it in daylight.

Driving Tips: Your Checklist Before Starting Your Car


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Heading out for a drive? Hold up a second! Whether you’re dashing off to work, running errands, or embarking on a road trip adventure, there are a few quick checks and driving tips worth adopting every time you start your car.

Not only do these steps ensure your safety (and that of others around you), but they also help in maintaining your vehicle’s longevity. So, before you rev up the engine and hit the play button on your favourite tunes, let’s run through a simple checklist before starting your car.

This driver is saving money by updating her policy with a car insurance endorsement.

Driving tip 1: Check your surroundings

Before you turn that key, take a look around. This simple act can prevent accidents before they happen. Kids, pets, toys, or even that neighbour’s fancy bicycle could be right behind your car, invisible from the driver’s seat. A quick look-around helps ensure you don’t back into anything or, more importantly, anyone.

Driving tip 2: Adjust your mirrors

Let’s not forget those mirrors! A quick adjustment ensures you’ve got a good view of what’s happening around you. Here are our driving tips for mirror adjusting:

Rear view mirror

  • This mirror should be adjusted so the rear window is perfectly centred. Aim to see as much of the road behind you as possible, with the horizon line centred across the middle of the mirror.
  • Don’t forget about the day/night adjustment feature to reduce the glare of headlights from cars behind you at night.

Side mirrors

  • Adjust your side mirrors outwards to just where your car’s sides are no longer in view. This minimises the overlap between the side and rear view mirrors and maximises your field of vision.
  • Tilt your side mirrors so that the horizon is in the same position as in the rearview mirror. This consistency helps in judging the distance of cars behind and beside you.

Driving tip 3: Make sure your footwell is clear

A cluttered footwell is an accident waiting to happen. Make sure nothing’s there that can roll under the pedals. Safety is in the details!

On that note – check your footwear. High heels can affect how your press your pedals, and loose footwear like thongs can easily slip off or bend over, slide around, or even get wedged under the pedals. Appropriate footwear reduces the risk of pedal errors, making your drive safer.

Driving tip 4: Buckle up

Driving tip 101: Seat belts save lives. Recent national data shows about 15% of vehicle occupants killed on Australian roads annually are not wearing a seatbelt.

Not only is it for safety, but it’s illegal to drive without a seatbelt in Australia. Always buckle in safely before you set off.

A red seatbelt release button in a driver's car.

Driving tip 5: Check the dash

Lights on the dashboard flashing? Take a quick peek to ensure all is good. Modern cars often tell you when it’s time for a check-up, be it an oil change or regular service. Keeping on top of these helps maintain your car’s longevity and reliability.

How’s your fuel? You don’t want to run out midway. A quick check avoids those “oops” moments. And by the way, here’s how to fix your dead car battery easily and why car tyre is important.

Driving tip 6: Make sure it’s in “park,” put down your hand brake

Ever tried starting your car in gear? Yeah, let’s not do that. Double-check it’s in “Park” or “Neutral.” And it goes without saying, but make sure your handbrake is down, too.

Even a few minutes of friction can wear down your brake pads and rotors unnecessarily, leading to expensive repairs and replacements sooner than you’d expect.

Driving tip 7: Check you have your essentials

Phone, wallet, sunglasses. Got ’em? Great! Essentials checked off the list means you’re ready to roll. One essential we’d recommend is a car survival kit – it’s a set of essentials in case you ever break down.

Here are 10 Things You Need in a Car Survival Kit.

Driving tip 8: Put your phone away or connect to a hands-free kit

18% of Australians use their mobile while driving, according to a Finder survey of 1,090 respondents. Taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles your risk of crashing.

Resist the urge to have your phone in hand when you start driving. It’s a distraction waiting to happen. Tuck it away, set it to do-not-disturb mode, or make sure its connected to a hands-free kit where you can take calls without taking your eyes off the road.

Driving tip 9: Plan your route

Got GPS? Set your destination before you hit the road. It’s way safer than fiddling with it while driving. Setting your GPS while driving takes your eyes and attention off the road, which as mentioned above drastically increases your chances of crashing.

Things to do if you haven’t driven your car in a while

If your car has been standing for a period of time, for instance two weeks or more, there are some extra steps on the checklist before starting your car.

Check the battery

First thing’s first, give that battery a quick glance. Is everything connected well? No signs of corrosion? A happy battery means no surprises when you’re in a hurry.

Check the pressure

Tires looking a bit sad? Grab that pressure gauge and give them a check. Proper pressure means a smoother ride and better fuel efficiency.

Check fluids

Oil, coolant, brake fluid – these are the lifeblood of your car. A quick peek under the hood to check levels can save you from future headaches.

Our number one driving tip: Ensure you’re insured

And number one on our checklist before starting a car, make sure you have value-rich car insurance.

Car insurance by PD covers your car for fire, flood, storm, accident and more will give you great peace of mind. And we all know there’s nothing better than living and driving with the satisfaction of being safeguarded.

Besides this our car insurance is fast, affordable, reliable and easy to use! Click below and get started.

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