Six car tips when preparing for a summer road trip
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Summer is officially here and for many of us 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.
That said, here are some tips AA gives to its members when they ask how they can ensure their car is in its best shape before a long trip.
It’s been a few years now since the legal requirement for a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) inspection was pushed out from six to 12 months for most cars, which means motorists should be even more vigilant when it comes to checking their tyres.
Over the course of a year, if left unchecked, they’re more likely to wear out completely or at least 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 on your bank balance, too, as under-inflated tyres consume more fuel.
If you’re unsure of your tyre condition, 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 that all your lights are in working order and make sure that the lenses are clean.
With kids off school, more visitors in New Zealand and locals on the road, it’s important to see and be seen, particularly when you’re driving in conditions where vision could be reduced.
No one wants to overheat on the side of the road or, worse, in the middle of crawling traffic.
Make sure your cooling system is in full working order to avoid that horror holiday scenario.
If you have to regularly top it up, get it checked out before you hit the road.
On average, there are 7500 AA Roadservice callouts a year that are related to issues with a car’s cooling system — many could have been avoided with regular checks.
It’s important to check the engine oil level and top it up when required.
If your annual service is coming up and you know it’s going to coincide with travel plans, make sure you get it done early.
Don’t wait until after your road trip to get your car serviced and bear in mind most workshops are extremely 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.
Clean them and ensure wiper blades are in good condition. If in doubt, buy new ones.
Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is full and always top 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 may cause it to crack and spread.
It may have been a while since your trailer or caravan was last on the road, so it’s important to check the wheel bearings to ensure they aren’t loose or noisy.
As well as your vehicle’s spare tyre, it’s also a good idea to carry a spare 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 space is lacking (or your car didn’t come with a spare), it is possible to carry a can of tyre inflator/sealer designed to get you to a place of repair. You can find these at your local automotive parts supplier.
If you’re ever 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.