Preparing for a summer trip
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Summer is just around the corner after that last squally spell of weather and for many that means we’ll be planning to hit the road for our eagerly anticipated holiday road trip.
If you’re getting away this Christmas, be mindful of the increased traffic and make sure you’re geared up for a safe journey.
Here are some tips we give our members to ensure their car is in its best shape before a long trip.
It is a few years since the legal requirement for a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) inspection was pushed from six to 12 months and this means motorists should be even more vigilant in checking their tyres.
Over the course of a year, tyres are likely to wear out completely or, at the very least, to develop uneven wear.
Before any trip, check the pressures — and don’t forget the spare. It’s not just about safety, there’s an impact upon your bank balance, too, as under-inflated tyres use more fuel.
If you have a 20c coin on hand, you can easily check the tread depth.
The bottom of the number 20 is about 2mm from the edge of the coin, so with the number facing towards you, insert the coin into the tread of the tyre. If you can read the whole number, your tyre is getting close to the 1.5mm minimum legal depth for a WoF and it’s time to replace it.
If the digits are still partly concealed, you know the tread of your tyre is still within the legal guidelines.
Do a final check for cuts, bulges and uneven wear by running your hand around the circumference of the tyre. If you’re unsure, speak to a tyre professional. You may even need a wheel alignment and balance if you haven’t had one in the past 12 months.
Walk around your vehicle to check all your lights are in working order and make sure the lenses are clean. With kids off school, more visitors in New Zealand and locals out on the road, there is an increased need to see and be seen, particularly when you’re driving in conditions where vision is reduced.
No one wants to overheat on the side of the road, or worse, in the middle of traffic. Make sure your cooling system is in full working order before heading out.
If you have to regularly top up, get your radiator checked out before you hit the road. On average, 7500 AA Roadservice callouts a year are related to issues with a car’s cooling system — many that could have been avoided with regular checks.
It’s important to check the engine oil level and to top it up when required, but if your annual service is coming up and you know it’s going to coincide with travel plans, make sure you do it early.
Don’t wait until after your road trip to get your car serviced, and bear in mind most workshops are busy just before the summer holidays, so book your service in advance.
Squinting through dirt and marks on your windscreen, windows and mirrors is setting yourself up for a painful drive. Give them a clean and ensure your wiper blades are in good condition. If in doubt, buy new ones.
Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is full and always top it up with fresh windscreen additive. If you have a stone chip on your windscreen, get it repaired before you hit the road as heat and travel could cause it to crack and spread.
It may have been a while since your trailer and caravan were last on the road, so it’s important to check the wheel bearings to ensure they aren’t loose or noisy.
It’s a good idea to carry a spare tyre for your trailer or caravan to avoid that worst-case, but all-too-real scenario of being stranded on the side of the road.
If you are in doubt during any of these checks, go to a professional for further assistance. They may just highlight areas of concern that need to be taken care of before you set off on your summer travels.