The meaning of BLOWBAGETS in driving & how it keeps you and your car safe

Updated Aug 04, 2020 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

Here's an in-depth guide to the BLOWBAGETS in driving meaning. Read on to know when to ensure a safe driving experience.

While people who are particularly enthusiastic about cars will be deeply knowledgeable about its maintenance and road safety, some newbies who just got their first car and is new to driving in general will sometimes forget one or two steps and/or essential things to do and check before driving.

A picture of a man checking out his classic car

Checking a car's ins and outs is a daily ritual experienced car owners are familiar with

To address this, numerous mnemonic devices have been introduced over the years. There’s SAM which is simply seatbelt, adjustments, mirrors. There’s SMOG which stands for signal, mirror, over-the-shoulder and go which is the ideal order of things to do when changing lanes.

Then there’s BLOWBAG which stands for battery, lights, oil, water, brakes, and gas. With regards to this one, you older, more matured drivers might remember it from when you first started learning to drive in the 90s to the early 2000s.

This mnemonic however was recently updated thanks to the efforts of the Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group because the old BLOWBAG was somewhat lacking some key items that were also of importance.

What’s the new version? It’s called BLOWBAGETS in driving.

Yeah, we know it sounds a bit silly or funny but due to this very reason, the new mnemonic device is certainly much easier to remember than BLOWBAG.

So, what does BLOWBAGETS stand for? Let's check out with!

1. BLOWBAGETS meaning: B for Battery

If your battery dies in the middle of your daily drive to work then you’re in deep trouble. Sure, your alternator might keep supplying your car with power but once you park your car and shut down its engine, it won’t start up again save for when you have a buddy with a car and some jumper cables, or when you have multiple buddies who can help you push start your car, assuming it’s a manual.

A picture of a car's battery

See those terminals? Give them a bit of a wiggle. If they move, then tighten them

So, before you even start your car, pop your hood and visually check the terminals for corrosion and lose terminals. Also, if your car battery is more than four years old, it might be a good idea to get one.

Another useful tip you can do is turn on your car’s headlights. If they’re dimmer than usual, then there’s something wrong with your battery or with your car’s electrical system.

>>> For further reference: Handy tips on how to charge and maintain car battery properly

2. BLOWBAGETS meaning: L for Lights

Car lights, which include signal lights, headlights, daytime running lights, and brake lights are essential in day to day driving. This is especially true here in Metro Manila where roads are tight, the traffic even tighter, and tempers are most often than not high. Also, your headlights are the only thing giving protecting you from wrapping your car around a tree at night.

A picture of a guy with a classic car

If your car's a bit older, it is a good idea to check if they're in the brink of falling off

Also, you can check if your headlights are actually pointed in the right direction or not by parking your car about 25 feet from a wall to see where the light beams are pointing. If they’re cross-eyed or worse, are actually pointing towards the left (opposite lane) then you can adjust these by turning an upper screw (vertical) and the side screw (horizontal) with a screwdriver.

>>> Worth to note the complete guide for car headlight maintenance

3. BLOWBAGETS meaning: O for Oil

Your car needs oil. Too little and your engine’s internals will wear out prematurely. Run out of it and your engine will outright die.

So before heading out, do check your car’s oil levels. Typically, oil dipsticks will have two pinholes, the words min, and max, or L and H. If it’s below the lower pinhole, min, or L, then do top up with oil and check again. Also, look out for leaks. Check the spot where you parked overnight and also at the bottom side of your engine.

A picture of a man checking his car's oil

Do give the dipstick a wipe after jamming it back in

4. BLOWBAGETS meaning: W for Water

Like a human, your car needs water to function. But unlike a human, some cars will require either a mixture of distilled water and coolant, coolant alone, or distilled water by itself.

Without it, the car’s radiator won’t effectively transfer heat away from the engine thus causing your vehicle to overheat.

5. BLOWBAGETS meaning: B for Brake

The 2nd “B” in BLOWBAGETS stands for brakes.

If you’ve been watching Philippine news channels on the regular, then you might have noticed the epidemic of car accidents caused by faulty brakes. Cars in general after all have a hefty amount of mass and you’ll need to use your car brakes properly

A picture of a foot pressing on a brake pedal

You can also perform a brake check on a road void of traffic

To check your brakes before heading out, depress the brake pedal fully with your engine turned on. If it feels spongy, too hard, too soft, or it sticks to the floor, then don’t use the car (have it towed or call a mechanic) and then have it checked.

6. BLOWBAGETS meaning: A for Air

There are two things on your car that need air. For the other one though, it is covered under the T part of BLOWBAGETS.

This one though, refers to the air needed for your car’s combustion engine to be able to burn fuel, create combustion that in turn will create the forces that’ll propel you forward. This air passes through an air filter

So, what BLOWBAGETS car check should I do? The Air filter of course!

A picture of a Toyota Vios' engine bay

A typical modern car will have its air-filter inside that black box circled in red

In modern cars, the air filter is usually located in a cold air collector box. Pop it open, pull out the air-filter and visually check its condition. Hold it up to the sun.

If you can’t see some light passing through the filter itself then try tapping it lightly on a hard surface, bottom side down. This’ll loosen up some dirt and debris. If you still can’t any light passing through the filter, then you’ll need to have it replaced.

7. BLOWBAGETS meaning: G for gas (fuel)

Running out of gas in the middle of EDSA is a fate we wouldn’t want anyone to experience. As such, we highly advise you to take a quick look on your car’s fuel gauge before heading on out.

8. BLOWBAGETS meaning: E for engine

Once you start your vehicle. Listed to it. If you hear some scary sounds that your car can make like line pings, knocking sounds, or pinging noises, then these might be indicative of a problem with your engine.

9. BLOWBAGETS meaning: T for tire

Tires are the sole part of the car that comes into contact with the surface you’re traveling on. If you don’t want to know what it’s like for any other part of your car to touch the road, aka an accident, then we highly advise you to check your tires daily.

To check if it has enough air, the best way is using pressure gauge. If you don’t have a tire pressure gauge (you should have one) you can check tire pressure by pushing the tire with your hand. If it moves, it needs more air.

A picture of a tire coin test

The tire coin test in action using a penny

You can also simply take a look at the tire. If it is deformed or is protruding it also needs air. Do be careful about over-inflation though as that can also cause accidents. To determine the right pressure, learn to know How to read specifications on tires?

Another thing to check about your car’s tires is its treads because a bald tire doesn’t have traction and you might even get to experience the wild and scary experience of spinning out due to hydroplaning.

So, to check for tire treads, insert a 1-peso coin (the new one) into a tread with Jose Rizal’s portrait held upright. If Rizal’s clothes up to his chin is covered by the tread, then your tires are fine. If you can see his name (positioned below the portrait) then you’ll need to buy new tires.

A picture of a 1 peso coin

If the tread comes up to Jose Rizal's chin, then your tires are still good 

10. BLOWBAGETS meaning: S for self

It is fairly evident that a human is crucial in operating a motor vehicle. In connection to that, one of the leading causes of accidents in the Philippines is human error. So before you start driving, assess yourself. Do you feel sleepy?

Do you feel tired? Are you sick? Are you drunk? Are you in the midst of a psychotic or any type or psychological breakdown? If you answered yes to those, DON’T DRIVE.

A picture of a tired man inside a car

After an all-nighter, you might want to grab a cup of coffee first before driving

BLOWBAGETS in driving: Everyone should know about it

To keep the greatest number of drivers safe, we encourage you, our readers, to share BLOWBAGETS to your friends and family. If they’re having trouble in checking the stuff included in this mnemonic, then we encourage you to walk them through the things you learned from this article.

>>> Click here to get more useful tips for car owners 

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.


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