It’s almost December boss! The time of year where we all get to take that much-needed time off to relax and recharge our batteries after a long year. Most of the time though our cars are not so lucky as this is often the time of year where they put in quite a few extra kilometres!
If you’re planning to drive to your destination this December holiday period, now is the time to start making sure that your car is up to the challenge. There is, arguably, nothing worse than being stuck on the side of the road with a smoking, broken car full of kids! So what can you do to get your car ready for December and all those road trips?
Well, the most obvious thing you can do is to book your car in for a 50 Point General Inspection with one of our awesome Fixxr Mobile Mechanics. They will come out to you and check such things as your tyres, brakes, fluids, suspension and a number of other things. And to make it even easier to plan you can make a booking online with availability and costing being provided to you upfront. Alternatively, for all those DIY people out there, here is the checklist of things to check.
The ‘Do it yourself’ Checklist
Tread depth: Although the legal limit is 1mm, make sure that your tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm as anything below that leaves you particularly vulnerable to aquaplaning.
Pressure: Make sure your tyres are correctly inflated and monitor the pressure as you go along as low pressure due to a slow puncture could cause a blowout. You can check the recommended pressure for your tyres on the inside of the drivers’ side door. There is typically an image giving an indication of the recommended pressure both unloaded as well as loaded (which is most likely the case if you are travelling so adjust accordingly).
Wear: Also make sure that the wear on your tyres is not uneven as that could point to worn suspension or steering components or faulty wheel alignment.
Spare: Your spare wheel should be in tip-top condition and correctly inflated. Also double-check that your jack, wheel spanners and unique wheel nut sockets and key (if you have them) are in place. If you drive a car that has a lock nut make 100% sure you have the key – if you get a flat tyre and do not have the key you are going to have fun changing your tyre!
The basics: Get someone to help you check that the headlights as well as the taillights, brake lights, indicators, and hazard lights are all working as they should be. If you’re on your own, a light-coloured wall in a dark spot at night will allow you to do your own tests.
Adjustment: Also ensure that your headlights are correctly adjusted. Do a rough test by making sure that the dipped light beam is no higher than the bonnet of the car.
Wipers: Ensure that your wipers are in good working order and that the wiper blades themselves are in decent condition and not cracking apart. If you see any streaking of water when using the wiper blades this is a very good indication that your wiper blades are worn and need to be replaced.
Demisting: Make sure your demisting system is still working correctly as a sudden mist-up while driving can be dangerous.
Damage: Check for chips and cracks on your windscreen and get these repaired as a damaged windscreen won’t protect you properly in an accident.
Inspection: Give your brake discs, drums and pads a thorough inspection, looking out for any uneven wear. That, along with any strange noises or vibrations, warrants a visit to a braking specialist.
Fluids: Make sure your brake fluid is topped up to the correct level.
Test: If in doubt, perform your own emergency braking test (when the coast is clear, of course) to be doubly sure that your braking system still operates correctly.
Under the Hood
Coolant: While the engine is cold check that your coolant level is at least close to the ‘max’ marking and that the fluid is clean. If not, fill it with a 50:50 mix of coolant and water. Don’t use only water, as it doesn’t have the anti-freeze and corrosion inhibiting properties of coolant. Also, make sure that should you top-up the coolant yourself that you use the correct coolant for your car (they typically come in different colors).
Radiator: Check that your radiator cap is sealing properly. Also, let the car idle for a bit and make sure that the radiator fan comes on as it should.
Oil: Use the dipstick to check that your oil level is within the two markings, but as close to the top marking as possible without overfilling. Check the oil again five days later and if you see a difference. If there is a difference it is recommended that you contact a mechanic.
Belts: Make sure that all belts and chains connected to the cam, alternator, and fan are in good shape. Keep an eye out for any tears or cracks. If your belts snap on a long trip you will not only be in for a long two home but might also cause serious damage to your engine.
Washer: Check that the windscreen washer bottle is full. Trust us on this one.
Filters: Ensure that your air, fuel, and oil filters are clean and if you change the latter, be sure to drain all the old oil from your engine and replace it with new oil of the correct grade.
Leaks: Inspect the oil, air and fuel systems, including hoses and pipes, for leaks. If you notice any leaks it will be well worth it to get those checked out as leaks are either an indication of more serious underlying issues or end up causing more serious issues (like a blown engine).
Hopefully, the above checks help you keep your car up for the challenge of all the road trips you will be taking this December! Sometimes the best way to arrive safely at your holiday destination is to ensure you as the driver are also in top condition when driving so take lots of breaks along the way, don’t drink and drive and maintain a safe speed limit and following distance.