Whether you’re planning a quiet holiday in the bush, a scenic retreat in the mountains, or a blissful beach holiday, peace of mind starts before you embark on your long-distance drive by making sure your vehicle is safe and ready to go.
1. Tyre pressure and tread
Making sure your tyre pressure is correct is critical for safety and to avoid a dreaded blowout. Always check tyres using a tyre gauge, and respond to the dashboard tyre-pressure warning light. Low tyre pressures waste fuel – save that cash for a cocktail!
Make sure your tyre tread is not too worn or unevenly worn. It’s better to replace worn tyres or ones with sidewall damage from a bounce against a curb or pothole rather than risking a blowout on the open road.
2. Test your lights are working
Test all your lights, indicators, brake lights and fog lights, one by one, in a garage or aimed at a wall, or ask someone to walk around your car while you do this.
3. Wipers and demisters
Wipers tend to wear quickly, especially when your car is kept outdoors and in the sun! Test both front and rear wipers, squirt washer fluid to make sure your wipers clean the glass clearly. Make sure your demisters are working as a sudden mist-up can be dangerous.
4. Dashboard warning lights
When you turn on the ignition, all warning lights should flash on momentarily. As soon as a warning light stays on, get it checked immediately by a professional.
If you feel like you are having a tug-o-war with the steering wheel to keep tracking in a straight line, or the steering wheel vibrates too much, it’s likely your steering needs alignment or needs to be inspected by a professional.
A dead battery means your car won’t start, possibly in an unsafe place, situation or late at night. Car batteries usually need replacing every few years, sometimes sooner. If your starter sounds sluggish, it’s either corrosion or a dying battery – either way, get it checked!
Although car fluids are typically checked during routine services, make sure you check these from time to time, including windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and oil.
8. Spare wheel
A simple yet critical check is making sure you have a spare tyre, jack and wheel spanner, and that they all work properly – you probably haven’t used them in a while.
9. Brakes and clutch
Always check the state of your brake pads by how your vehicle reacts to braking when driving; and if it pulls to either side under braking. Check squeaking, scratchy, or shuddering brakes immediately!
Road safety 101: it’s totally unsafe to drive a vehicle that cannot be controlled under braking.
10. Roadside assistance
Good roadside assistance means never being stranded in bad weather or the middle of nowhere with no fuel, a flat tyre, or in need of a jump-start or tow.
When in doubt, book a safety check with a professional such as an ACD workshop. They will walk you through all the key points and offer you sound advice on keeping your car in great shape. Safe is always better than sorry.