The December school holidays are almost upon us and it’s time for a road trip. Heading to the beach? Going to the bush? Don’t be stranded. Wherever your destination, you need to make sure that your car is road-trip-ready so that your holiday isn’t ruined by a vehicle breakdown or other car trouble.
Here’s our handy car maintenance checklist to prepare your car for the road:
Pop the hood: Check your engine oil and water levels and top up as needed. Make sure your brake fluid is sufficient and don’t forget to top up the water for your windscreen washers.
Check your car battery: Note any warning signs, including when your car starts sluggishly or if the engine light comes on. Inspect the condition of your car’s battery – if there are leaks or if the battery looks swollen, you should replace it.
Windscreen wipers: Are your windscreen wipers (front and back) displaying any of the four S’s? If they are streaking, skipping, slipping or squeaking, it might be time for new blades to ensure optimum visibility on your road trip.
Clean it up: If you’re driving at night, dirty windows will increase glare from the lights of other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up. Similarly, dirty mirrors reflect the lights from cars behind you and can produce glare in your eyes, so clean them up.
Check your tyres: Inflate your car tyres to the recommended pressure (find this on the inside door panel on the driver’s side or near the fuel tank of your car). Be sure to check your tyre tread too. South African regulation stipulates that tyre tread depth must measure at a minimum of 1 millimetre across the circumference of the tyre. Don’t forget to check the condition of your spare tyre too.
Lights on: From front to back, check that all your car lights are in working order. This includes your indicators, brights, and emergency hazard lights.
Don’t overload the car: Do you know? Your car has a maximum weight capacity. Exceeding that maximum capacity puts your safety at risk – overloaded vehicles are less stable on the road and can be difficult to steer. Overloaded vehicles are sluggish at overtaking and they take longer to stop. You’ll find your car’s maximum weight capacity printed on the driver’s door.
In case of emergency: Whether your car gets a flat battery or breaks down on the side of the road, there are some things you always need to keep with you in the car. Check out our list of essential items to keep in your car.
Map your route: Always make sure that you’ve taken the time to familiarise yourself with your road trip route. Typically, traffic volumes on all South Africa’s major routes increase over the school holidays on the N3, and N1 and N2 to Cape Town, as holiday-makers go to various destinations. Always have an alternative route in mind, and stay up to date with road conditions and traffic issues on your planned route.
Lastly, make sure you’re covered for any eventuality on the road.