Make sure your car is safe for the festive season road trip

Summer holiday season has now started, South Africans traditionally pack up their cars and head for the coast or the mountains. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when the mortality rate spikes. The good news is that last holiday season saw the death rate reduce by almost 14%—but that’s still 1451 people lost to their families and friends.

“We all want to further reduce mortality rate over the forthcoming festive season. How we drive is obviously the main factor, but even the best driver is dependent on the condition of his or her vehicle. Doing a proper safety check is critical,” says Sharon Pretorius, Regional Operations Manager at Supa Quick. “You’ve spent so much time planning where to go—now take the time and trouble to make sure you get there safely.”

For your convenience, here is a comprehensive checklist:

Engine condition. Get your engine looked at by a professional. Specific areas to be investigated would include the drive belt and the steering. Drive belts last for long periods, but the consequences of a worn one are dire: overheating, the battery does not charge, the air conditioner may not work and the engine itself could be damaged.

At the same time, it’s important to have the steering checked—this is something that is seldom if ever done and yet the consequences of a steering malfunction are grave.

Fluid levels. Fuel, coolant, and oil levels need to be checked weekly, but take especial care to ensure they are all satisfactory before a long trip. In particular, if your oil levels are close to needing replenishment, why not have a bottle of oil in the car, just in case. Don’t forget to check the fluid levels for the transmission, brakes and power steering, as well as the windscreen wiper water.

Lights. Brake, indicator, and head/ taillights should be checked. Indicators and taillights are particularly important for communicating your intentions to other road users.

Brakes. Both foot and hand brakes should be checked before a long trip. Hand brakes are a useful fallback in emergencies.

Tyres. A vehicle’s tyres are the only part of it that is in contact with the road. The correct inflation pressures must be used, especially if the load is going to be heavier. Tread needs to be checked as well—worn tread affects braking and could also result in a blowout. Worn treads also grip less well in wet conditions.

Windscreen wipers. In our generally dry climate, it’s easy to forget about the wipers until they are needed. Due to the harsh sun, wiper blades can become worn and cracked, especially if they are not used often—but, while infrequent in many parts of the country, our rain can be hard.

“A good starting place is to take advantage of Supa Quick’s free safety check, available at over 195 Supa Quick stores countrywide, which covers most of these areas as well as others like the exhaust, shocks and safety equipment,” says Pretorius. “Safe cars make for safer people.”