Many of us can get caught up in the planning process of our travels and we tend to focus on accommodation, activities and things to see. It is therefore very easy for us to overlook our cars. This can potentially lead to a nasty breakdown and even end our holiday before it even begins.
We have compiled a list of things to check before you hit the long road:
Our roads are not in the best of conditions and tyre wear is a common cause of blowouts. Check your tyres before you leave. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm across the tyre, all the way around; if you need help, head on over to your tyre dealer and get them to check the tread.
2: Spare tyre
The last thing you want is to unpack your luggage on the side of the road with the kids crying and the wife moaning, only to find that your spare tyre is flat. Make sure to check it before you leave. Remember, out of sight out of mind. Also make sure that it is in good condition.
3: The engine oil
Without oil your engine will overheat, weld itself together and self-destruct. This is something that many of us tend to overlook. With the engine cold, check the dipstick. Top up as necessary via the cap at the top of the engine, and give the oil time to run down to the sump before rechecking the level. Neglect this and you could find yourself stuck along the N3 to Durban.
4: The windscreen washer bottle
Check to make sure that the fluid is topped up. It is summer and there are lots of bugs around. The last thing you want is a dirty, bug-splattered windscreen to peer through. There are a number of different products out there that help clean the window. Visit your local supermarket and you are sure to find something. If not then you can fill the bottle with water. Don’t add dishwashing liquid into the bottle, this can lead to a soapy film forming on the window.
5: Check your wiper blades
While on the topic of the windows, check your wiper blades. South Africa is known for random thunderstorms. Don’t get caught with defunct blades. It is very unsafe as your visibility will be compromised.
Some of us like to leave before the sun comes up, so make sure your lights are working, both on your car and on the trailer - if you have one. Go through all your lights, indicators, brake, dip, full beam, fog and so on – one by one. Either get someone to watch for blown bulbs, or park near a white wall or even close to a shop window one night, to see them yourself.
7: Check your boot
Many of us tend to use our boot as a storage compartment for all sorts of random things. Empty takeaway boxes, gym bags, empty water bottles and even a variety of clothes. Now is the time to clean all that out. Also check that your car’s toolbox and warning triangle are where they should be and that all the tools are there.
8: The fan belt
Check for cracks in the rubber or excessive play. A prolonged shrieking while you're driving means either it's loose and/or slipping.
9: Check your route
Those who use a GPS, check to make sure that it has recommended the best route. Make sure that you study the route in case the GPS malfunctions and sends you off a cliff. Sometimes, the shortest route is not the best route and could see you taking your fancy sports car along a pothole-filled back road. Also make sure there are enough service stations along the way.
10: Dealer checks
Many car dealerships offer promotions around the holiday time. They will give your car a good going over to make sure that all is in order. We recommend that you take advantage of these offers. There might be something that you missed. They will also inform you if anything is out of place and will quote you on repairing whatever it is.
We hope these 10 steps have helped you out in getting ready for your journey. Remember, always take rests along the way and obey the laws of the road. Getting there is part of the journey, enjoy it!