Most of us get in our vehicles to go from point A to point B, and never really think about all of the things that keep us safe during that journey.  Vehicles are equipped with a wide range of safety components and features that are designed to protect us and our vehicle occupants. Some of the more obvious safety components of our vehicles are things like seat belts or door locks – But what about those vehicle safety features we know are there but are usually not top of mind? In this article, we review key safety components in our vehicles, what can potentially go wrong with them, and ways to maintain ongoing and effective functioning of those safety components.

Safety ComponentPurposePotential ProblemsMaintenance Tips
Braking SystemThe braking system controls the slowing and stopping of your vehicle while in motion.

Key components include:
 Brake pads
 Rotors
 Brake fluid
 Calipers
The braking system is subjected to the rigorous aspects of movement: heat and friction.

Many braking system problems are a by-product of heat or friction, including:
 Brake fluid leaks
 Worn rotors
 Worn or dirty brake pads
 Worn calipers
 Inspect brake pads/rotors every 12K miles for wear
 Flush brake fluid and bleed the brake line every 25K miles
Suspension SystemThe suspension system helps your vehicle maintain stability by absorbing the friction and bumps from the road surface, making it safer and smoother for vehicle occupants.

Key components include:
 Tires
 Steering system
 Springs
 Shock absorbers
 Struts (mostly in trucks and SUVs)
Suspension systems are designed for handling the rigorous aspects of road surfaces (eg. potholes, railroad tracks), speed, and weather conditions (eg. snow, road salt). However, those elements can affect the suspension over time and produce problems, including:
 Poor wheel alignment/uneven tire wear
 Shock absorber leaks
 Damaged struts or springs
 Keep tires inflated at recommended level
 Rotate tires every 6 months
 Complete wheel alignment every 2-3 years
 Regularly check for steering fluid leaks
 Have suspension components inspected by a service professional
Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemSince 2008, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) were made mandatory in all US vehicles. TPMS is an electronic component that alerts you to any tire pressure issues, such as low air. This system keeps drivers safe by continuously measuring the tire air pressure to avoid potential blowouts or tire punctures while driving. The TPMS is equipped with tire pressure sensors for each of your tires. The majority of problems you will experience will be with the tire pressure sensors, including:
 Weak or failing sensor batteries
 Faulty wiring with sensor
 Heat, dirt, or water corrosion to sensors
When a tire pressure sensor is bad and needs replacement, you will usually notice a few signs, such as:
 TPMS not indicating low air pressure
 Indicator light for faulty sensor
 Incorrect TPMS information

Always make sure that the TPMS is reset after maintenance.
Electronic Stability ControltElectronic Stability Control (ESC), is a safety feature that automatically engages when necessary to stabilize your vehicle if it is losing traction or control of the road. ESC operates by applying brakes to affected wheels in situations such as slippery road surfaces, or when the driver is overcorrecting on their steering. Vehicle manufacturers may refer to ESC by different names.Most of the issues you may experience with the ESC are usually tied to sensors or faulty electronic components that may falsely trigger ESC, including:
 Defective brake light switch
 Steering angle or wheel speed sensors
If your ESC warning light will not shut off, have it checked by a service professional.
Vehicle AirbagsVehicle airbags are a safety occupant restraint system designed to protect a vehicle occupant in a collision. Airbags inflate and deflate quickly during a vehicle collision from both the sides and front to provide energy absorbing protection for vehicle occupants.Vehicle airbags were made mandatory in 1998 for all US cars and light trucks. Airbag problems typically arise from faulty manufacturing, and may include:
 Failure to deploy
 Poor timing or energy release during deployment
 Faulty or loose parts
It is important to check with your vehicle manufacturer for any airbag recalls or problems. There are ways to search if your vehicle is subject to an airbag recall by using your vehicle identification number (VIN).

Important: Do not ignore airbag recall alerts. Faulty airbags can result in serious injury or death to vehicle occupants.

The next time you get in your vehicle to go from point A to point B, remember that there are many components of your vehicle that are keeping you and your occupants safe.  Familiarize yourself with your vehicle safety features and make sure to keep them maintained at all times.  If you have concerns that one of your vehicle’s safety features has a problem, schedule an appointment today for a full service inspection at our auto repair shop located in Ft. Collins, Colorado.