When I first learned how to drive, I was made to memorize the mnemonic BLOWBAG, which stood for Battery, Lights, Oil, Water, Brakes, Air, and Gas. It helped me get started on responsible driving and car ownership. It has become second nature to me, checking all items under BLOWBAG before I leave my garage, every single day.
This year, I was surprised to learn that the mnemonic has evolved into something new, something more catchy. And I am glad to know that they have included more items to check that are equally important as the original BLOWBAG. Thanks to the PNP-Highway Patrol Group for coming up with BLOWBAGETS!
Since I find this helpful (and fun!), let me share with you some insights about this new driving mnemonic as my way of encouraging fellow car owners and drivers to be more responsible to prevent accidents and car breakdowns, especially when taking long drives this summer.
What’s in BLOWBAGETS? Read on!
You try to start your engine but all it gives you is nothing short of a scoff or snicker. You try it again and get the same response. Uh-oh. Your battery may have died on you. For some weird reason, my car would give me warning signals that its batteries are about to go out. Weeks before it dies, my car alarm would often go crazy, sounding off for no reason at all.
I am just thankful that it has not died on me in a remote area or in the dead of the night, or when I am faced with an emergency. Still, I need to remind myself that checking my car’s battery for clean terminals, proper cable-to-terminal connections, and charge will save me the hassle of having to change my batteries in public and right when I am rushing to get home or to the office.
Car batteries normally take three to four years before they burn out. It helps to keep a record of when you had yours replaced so you could estimate when you would need a replacement.
This is easy. I simply ask someone to stand in front and at the back of the car while I test my headlights, break, signal, and tail lights. I am especially concerned about my lights when I will be driving at night.
Apart from the bulbs working, you also need to be sure that the lights are free from dirt, cracks, and breakage.
This one I learned to do when I was 9 years old. I thought it was fun pulling out the oil dipstick and checking to see for any change in oil color or level. I realized later on that the oil is a critical element in the car engine’s life as too little of it can cause serious damages in the car’s moving parts.
Check your car’s engine oil everyday for color, level, and leaks. Know when it is time to refill to avoid expensive repair bills.
Is there enough water in your radiator?
Always check to see that your radiator is properly hydrated, especially during the summer season. Those water bottles that jeepney and taxi drivers keep in their trunk? Those are first-aid remedies for overheated vehicles; you should keep some in your car too.
Nawalan ako ng preno, eh.
Nope, don’t let it happen to you. How do you check if your brakes are working fine? Step on the brake pedal and press all the way to the floor. There should not be any resistance, air, or spongy feel to it. If the brakes feel hard or seem like it is resisting your pressure, have it checked right away.
A personal precaution I observe too is the no-water-bottle-on-the-floor policy in my car. I always remind my passengers to use the bottle holders found in the interior of the car and to never leave a water bottle lying on the floor. These bottles could roll to the driver’s side and block the brake pedal without being noticed.
Do I know how to replace a flat tire? Yes.
Do I like replacing a flat tire? No.
Before leaving home, check that all your tires are properly inflated, free from bulges and any sharp objects that may be stuck to its surface. If you are not comfortable checking with just your eyes, head over to the nearest gasoline station or vulcanizing shop to have each tire’s pressure gauged properly.
That all important fuel that we all love to ignore.
Running out of gas while on the road is not only stressful, it’s embarrassing! So don’t wait until your gas gauge starts flashing that annoying red light before you finally stop by a gas station. Refill as soon as the pin goes a little below the half-tank meter.
Best way to detect an engine problem? Listen.
My dad would tell us to switch off our car’s A/C while on a long drive, roll down our windows, and listen to our car’s engine. He likes doing this while we’re speeding down NLEX! He loves listening to the engine’s hum.
If you are familiar with your engine’s sound, you would know right away if something is amiss, such as when you hear an unfamiliar tap, knock, or any other kind of noise that you are sure you haven’t heard from your engine before.
Apart from it having the right air pressure, your tires must not be so worn out that the grooves have become too shallow. I check mine by placing a one-peso coin into my tires’ grooves; if the coin goes almost all the way down, I’m good. But if more than half of the coin remains visible, I’d know it’s time to buy new tires.
Am I sleepy? Do I have alcohol in my system? Am I disoriented, stressed, or suffering from one of my many migraine attacks?
Believe it or not, these can gravely affect your driving skills and may cause you and the people around you unnecessary harm. Please do not go behind the wheel when you are experiencing any of the above conditions. If you are sick and feel that you need to be taken to the hospital and no one is around to drive for you, hail a cab or request for a car from Grab instead.
Remember that even if your car is in tip-top shape, if you as the driver are not, you are still running the risk of damaging yourself and your vehicle.
Apart from all those, my dad would also remind us to always have the complete documents of our vehicles within our reach – keeping the original copies at home and photocopies in the car’s glove compartment.
There you have it, folks! A new mnemonic that drivers and soon-to-be drivers need to memorize by heart. Share this will all the people you care about! Drive safely!