Whether you’re driving a short distance or across the country this holiday, a pre-trip car check can make all the difference to the safety of your vehicle.
The rule is: take good care of your car before you leave, and it’ll take good care of you on the road. South Africa’s largest battery supplier, Battery Centre, has put together a handy list of car-care tips to make your holiday road trip safe and happy – and get you to your destination as planned.
Pop the hood
Open your car hood to check brake fluid, engine oil and cooling system (wait until the engine is cool to do this). When changing engine oil, use a high-quality motor oil to extend the life of your engine, protect it from wear and tear and maintain optimum fuel economy.
Refill water levels – a lack of water may cause the engine to overheat. Any leaks you discover should be fixed immediately as they can lead to serious car damage. If you’re unsure about checking leaks yourself, check your car in for an all-round service before you head out.
A powerful start
Before heading off, check your battery by eye. If you spot any acid leaks, cracks or damage, your battery needs to be replaced. Make sure battery terminals are tight and in good condition (i.e. not rusted or breaking). When starting the car, if you feel the engine cranks slowly, the battery could be close to its end and it’s best to have it checked and replaced if necessary.
A new battery usually lasts three to six years, so if your battery is four to five years old, it's a good idea to have it tested before a long trip. You can visit your nearest Battery Centre for a free battery check – or to replace your battery if necessary. Battery Centre specialists can quickly and easily check and fit quality batteries for any vehicle.
A smooth drive
Always check your tyre pressure for a smooth drive. The recommended pressure is usually located at the bottom of the driver door. If you feel a vibration at highway speed, have your tyres balanced. Check the tyre wear – worn out or uneven tyre grooves indicate an alignment problem.
Along with packing your clothes, snacks and gadgets, always pack a full emergency car kit. This includes jumper cables or a fully-charged jumper pack, first aid kit, torch and a small tool kit. Always carry a spare tyre, wheel wrench and jack, in case of a flat tyre. Be prepared for any emergency so you can get back on the road quickly.
Test-drive the car
Before you go on holiday, go for a short drive on the freeway and listen for noises, feel for shakes and watch for warning signs in the gauges. Don't assume everything is fine just because you drive your car every day. This is a test, not a regular drive, so focus your attention acutely on listening for unusual noises. If you hear something untoward, take your car to a trusted service professional for a complete diagnostic test and have repairs done before you hit the road. With all car checks done, you can enjoy a smooth stress-free drive – and a fun-filled holiday road trip.
Battery Centre experts are always on hand to assist with regular battery care and reliable car advice. Here’s where to find your nearest Battery Centre. For more information about Battery Centre and the full range of batteries on offer, visit www.battery.co.za or call toll free 0800 112 600.