The holidays are almost upon us and many will be hitting the roads around the country eager to get to their holiday destinations.
If you’re planning to take any long road trips, you need to take extra care due to the higher volumes of traffic expected during this time period. The incidence of car accidents during any holiday season notoriously increases.
So, what’s the best way to ensure the safety of you, your loved ones and other drivers on the road?
“Do all major checks on your car at least two weeks before you leave on your trip so that any work needed will be completed on time,” suggests Twilley.
Your road trip advance checklist must include:
- Ensure that all bulbs on your vehicle are in working order to ensure that you can see, be seen and clearly indicate your intentions
- Make sure that headlamps are adjusted correctly – ensuring that light beams offer adequate viewing distance, without being adjusted too far upwards, causing visibility problems for oncoming motorists
2. Windows & wipers:
- Check to make sure that all windows are in a good condition and that any cracks or chips are repaired. A damaged windscreen not only reduces visibility, but also limits the windscreen’s ability to protect you in adverse conditions or in the event of an accident.
- Make sure that wiper blades and their mechanisms are performing well – making a clean sweep every time.
3. Wheels and tyres:
- Ensure that all wheels are securely fastened.
- Ensure that each tyre has adequate tread. The legal limit is 1mm of tread, but anything below 3mm limits the tyre’s ability to function effectively.
- Check to see if your vehicle’s tyres are wearing evenly. Uneven wear may indicate a worn steering or suspension component, an over or under inflated tyre or bad wheel alignment / -balancing.
- Make sure that your vehicle is equipped with a spare wheel that is in good condition, that you have the correct jack and other tools to remove a damaged wheel and tyre.
- Check your vehicle’s brake fluid level and top it up if necessary.
- Ensure that all brake discs, drums and pads are in good condition, performing well and that they are wearing evenly. Perform an emergency stop test to make double sure. Any uneven wear, strange noises or vibrations from the braking system should be investigated and fixed.
- Make sure that your vehicle’s shock absorbers and other suspension systems are keeping the tyres firmly on the ground.
- If your vehicle’s ride quality is harder than it normally is, it rolls a lot when turning into corners or needs a longer distance to stop, worn or damaged suspension parts like shocks or struts may need to be replaced.
- Test your vehicle’s battery to make sure that it’s delivering the correct charge and, in the case of serviceable batteries, that the battery water is topped up.
7. Belts and chains:
- Check to make sure that all belts and chains connected to the cam, alternator, fan and other components are in a good condition. Broken belts and chains can cause anything from a great inconvenience to major engine damage.
8. Cooling system:
- It’s important to make sure that your vehicle’s cooling system – especially the radiator and water pump – are functioning correctly. Also ensure that the radiator cap seals properly and that the coolant fluid is clean and topped up to the correct level.
9. Filters and fluids:
- To ensure maximum efficiency of your vehicle, make sure that all major filters – oil, air and fuel filters – are clean and functioning well.
- When you change the oil filter, make sure that you drain all old oil from your vehicle and replace it with new oil that matches the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
- Make sure that all fluids are at their recommended levels.
- Inspect all oil, air and fuel systems for leaks and fix them before leaving on your journey.
10. Exhaust system:
- Give the exhaust system a good once over to check for any leaks. A damaged exhaust system won’t only cause vehicle performance- and fuel consumption issues, but also poses a serious health risk.
11. Body panels, mountings and accessories:
- Make sure that all body panels, mountings and accessories – including tow bars and the trailers etc. attached to them, are properly fastened and secured. The same applies to any load your vehicle may be carrying.
- Make sure that your vehicle isn’t overloaded.
12. Safety / warning equipment:
- Be sure to have at least a reflective triangle or flashlight handy to warn oncoming motorists when your car has broken down. Many drivers rely on their vehicles’ emergency indicators only, not bearing in mind that these may not be visible under certain conditions or that they may not work in the case of an electrical fault / battery trouble.
- Ensure that you have adequate car insurance in place, and all support/emergency numbers at hand, in case something unforeseen happens.