How to ensure your vehicle is safe for your holiday trip
While planning your festive season holiday trip, at the top of the list must be to ensure your vehicle is safe for the journey.
At least two weeks ahead of time, check that everything is in proper working order.
While most people do the common checks, such as topping up with fuel, checking the tyres are properly inflated, balanced and aligned and the battery is in no danger of running flat, here are seven less-than-common checks to do to ensure a vehicle is safe for the journey:
1. Drive belt
People are inclined to neglect checking the drive belt because most last a long time these days.
However, a worn belt may cause a vehicle to overheat, the alternator may stop charging the battery, the air conditioner may stop working, and worse, it could mean serious damage to the engine or its system.
If a drive belt breaks, you will be stuck — not anything you wish for while on a holiday road trip.
Without proper steering, you put yourself at major risk of an accident.
Steering is affected by wheel alignment and causes irregular wear and tear to tyres, so to save time and money, get this checked.
3. Fluid levels
Motor oil is arguably the most important because it lubricates the moving parts of the engine, which causes heat and friction to build up.
Without sufficient and clean oil, overheating can result, causing severe damage to components or the engine to seize.
Engine/motor oil, brake fluid, and coolant are the main fluids to check for leaks and to top up if low, but also check transmission, power steering, and windshield wiper fluid for a comprehensive run-through.
Tail lights and headlights, especially in any lowlight conditions (and not just at night) allow a vehicle to be clearly visible to other road users.
Following this simple “be seen” rule can avoid an accident, so make sure your lights are switched on at least from sunset to sunrise, but better yet, all the time.
While brakes can consist of a disc, caliper, and pad, a brake’s pads are typically the first to wear, so ensure a minimum of 5mm thickness.
The handbrake is often overlooked when it comes to safety checks, but because it can also act as a backup brake in emergency situations, it is worth checking.
To do this, pull away while applying the brakes slowly and count the clicks.
There should be between five and eight clicks before it is fully engaged, and the car should come to a full stop.
While most people check for inflation pressure, and to a degree for wheel alignment and balancing, they tend to ignore tyre tread depth.
This can be detrimental as worn tyres do not grip well in adverse conditions, such as on wet surfaces.
A tyre’s tread depth must be a minimum of 3mm, with even all-round wear, and no signs of cracking or other damage.
7. Windscreen wipers
These are one of the less-considered parts of a car when going on a road trip until the sound of distant thunder starts.
Windscreen wiper blades become worn and cracked, even if not used often, due to SA’s harsh weather conditions.
Ineffective wipers can not only impair your vision or put a halt to your journey if it is raining, but also scratch your windscreen.
Visit a Supa Quick for a free safety check.