Car Care: Ready for a holiday check-up?
Devote more time to long-overdue car jobs during the holidays, advises Jack Biddle
Do yourself a favour over the Christmas break and forgo a little precious holiday time to give your vehicle some attention.
If your plans are to stay home and chill out, it’s an ideal time to tidy up a few of those jobs that may have been overlooked during the year.
While time is on your side and traffic flows are lighter than usual, can that long-overdue service be carried out without feeling too much pressure to arrange dropoff and collection times?
Is the warrant of fitness or relicensing due? You can bet most testing stations or authorised garages will be far less busy after Christmas than before, so why not do a quick drive-by when it suits and roll on up if the inspection lanes are empty.
And what about giving up a little bit of couch time to give the car a wash and vacuum? Or a quick polish to help protect the paintwork?
Who knows, a good search under seats and mats or in gloveboxes may reveal that irreplaceable treasure you thought was lost forever.
However, if the car is going to be used to transport the family plus the kitchen sink to a faraway holiday spot, give some consideration to its wellbeing once you have reached your final destination.
Try to park in the shade or out of the sun and fit a sunshade across the dash to help reduce interior temperatures. Keep a window or two down a little to allow some airflow through the vehicle.
Do a quick walk around the car occasionally to make sure the tyres are still up, an out-of-control rugby or cricket ball hasn’t done some panel or glass damage and the body isn’t covered in bird droppings that can ultimately etch their way into paintwork.
If the holiday is going to be spent close to beaches, a quick hosedown may be in order to help remove unwanted salt spray on panels and glass. Be careful if attempting to dry the car off when wet, as grit or fine sand particles still on the panels will scratch.
And be a little nervous if a near neighbour and total stranger comes knocking offering you a beer if they can connect to your battery to jump start their vehicle. Nine times out of 10 it will go smoothly — but if the jumper leads are in the hands of a complete amateur, expensive electronic problems can result.
It’s a good idea to try to avoid that situation by starting your car’s engine occasionally to ensure the battery is still in good shape.
A quick check of levels such as radiator expansion tanks, engine oil and washer fluid is always a good idea a couple of days before heading home. Packing up can become very stressful at times so doing last-minute take-off checks on the car can easily be forgotten. When hooking up a trailer or caravan, make sure connections are all good and all the lights work before heading home.
Whatever your plans, travel safely and drive to the conditions and revised speed limits. And always allow for errors of judgment from fellow motorists. We all make them at times. Oh, have you checked the expiry date of your licence lately?