There is much to be excited about this festive season, but first, and most importantly, you and your family need to get where you’re going safely.
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The statistics suggest that the four main causes of accidents are distracted drivers, speed, alcohol and unroadworthy vehicles.
While we can’t do much about the first three, except ask you to keep to the rules. When it comes to keeping your car in tip-top shape, we offer these nine tips and checks.
1. Dealer or service provider check
Various dealerships and service providers offer a quick check service. You can simply go in and have an expert see if a car is in good enough shape for a long distance cruise. The good news is that this service is usually offered for free.
2. Tyres and spare tyre
The first thing you’ll want to check is the tread depth, ensuring that you have at least the bare minimum of 1.6mm. If the car is near that mark, it’s best to invest in a brand-new set.
Also, remember to check the spare tyre. Nothing is worse than puncturing one tyre, only to find that the replacement is also busted.
A quick check that you can get done at any forecourt. If the levels are low, the attendant will top it up with the correct engine oil.
4. Wiper blades
Most of South Africa receives rainfall during the summer, so chances are you’ll be needing the wipers. Make sure you can see the road ahead.
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5. Windscreen wash
This is especially important if you like driving at night. One can easily drive through a swarm of bugs and they tend to make an enormous mess if you turn the wiper blades on without a drop of water on the windscreen.
Visibility is key to staying safe. Not only should you check every single light on the car, but on the trailer as well. Ensure that they work under all possible driving scenarios, including braking, full beams and indicating.
Before you head out on your trip, it’s worth checking that you have every necessary tool you’ll need in the boot. These include the tools needed to change a tyre, warning triangle and a first aid kit.
If you’re travelling to one of our neighbour states, always check that you have the right tools and stickers required by the law.
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8. The route
If you have a GPS, keep it updated. You’ll want to know if the route you chose is the best, not just for getting where you’re going, but in terms of points of interest and availability of petrol stations as well.
9. Tyre pressure
Tyres are not something you want to mess with. On the day you leave, ask the petrol station attendant to check the tyre pressures on all four tyres and your spare, ensuring that they are within manufacturer specifications.
Most modern cars offer a cheat sheet, usually on the side of one of the front doors. On there it will tell you what the pressure should be for a fully laden car. Otherwise, consult your owner’s manual.
For an in-depth look at the safety checks, watch the video below.
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