Before hitting the road on a long trip, it is important to make sure your vehicle is going to get you to your destination. Here are 6 things you can check to minimize any delays.
1. Tyres. There are three main things to check with regards to tyres – pressure, tread depth and overall health. Using either a tyre pressure gauge or the pump at a local service station, be sure to set the tyre pressure to your vehicle’s recommended pressure (this is found usually on a placard inside the driver’s door frame or in the owner’s manual). If unsure, MOST passenger vehicles can be set to 32PSI.
Using a tyre tread indicator (or a small ruler with mm increments), check how much rubber is left across the entire tread area. There should be AT LEAST 1.5mm all over for the vehicle to be road worthy.
Lastly, check the entire tyre for any tears, bulges uneven or scalloped tread wear. If any are found, DO NOT drive the vehicle! Swap it immediately for the spare and get the damaged tyre replaced.
Also, when performing the above checks – don’t forget the spare! Nothing worse than changing a tyre only to find it is flat.
2. Oil and fluid levels. Oil, coolant and wiper are the obvious ones, but don’t forget to also check brake and transmission fluid levels. Running out of any of these could be inconvenient, damaging or even dangerous. Ideally, you should be checking your levels fortnightly, but it is particularly important before a long trip. Top up levels when necessary and be sure to change the oil filter at recommended service intervals.
3. Lights. Don’t just check tail lights and brake lights separately – make sure you try them together to ensure there are no electrical shorts in your wiring. Check number plate light to avoid a fine and don’t forget to check any trailers or caravans you plan to tow before setting off on your trip.
4. Brakes. Unless you know what you are doing, you should take your car to a professional to check your brakes. Many places offer free brake and tyre checks – take them up on this service for peace of mind. If you are pulling a large trailer or caravan, these often have brakes as well – don’t forget to check them. Also, be sure to test your handbrake – in forwards AND reverse. Brakes are not something to take a chance on – it is better to be safe than sorry.
5. Windscreens. Wiper blades should be changed at least once a year and if you can’t recall the last time you changed yours, it is worth checking and changing them before a trip. If it does rain and you are driving through it for a few hours, clear vision can help you avoid getting tired and make a difference to your safety. Be sure to test your windscreen washers too – having to stop at service stations to clean your windshield can add unnecessary delays to your trip.
6. Seatbelts. This is something that many people overlook, but is extremely important. Inspect every belt in the vehicle to ensure the pre-tensioners work when pulled at high speed and there are no frays or tears that may cause the belt to break in the event of an accident.
So, make sure to check these things and have a good trip!