Planning on going on a road trip soon? Before you do so, you should check your car to make sure that it is in good condition and running smooth. This will help you to drive safe and avoid any breakdowns or mechanical issues.
Check the fluids in your car: Checking the oil, coolant, brake fluid and windscreen wash levels may help you avoid an accident or an unnecessary breakdown. Also check the levels for the clutch fluid (often the same as brake fluid) and power steering fluid (if fitted to your car). Refer to your owner’s manual to see where fluid reservoirs are located.
Check your air pressure: These should be printed in the owner’s manual or a sticker on the body where the driver’s door shuts. The pressure marked on the side of the tire is the max, which must not be exceeded. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire pressure. Often neglected, not doing so will turn a bad time into a worse one if the spare is unusable. Check your tire wear by using a penny or tread gauge. Ensure you have at least 1/16th” or 1.6mm tread left. If the tread is less than 1/12″ or 2.5mm, consider replacing your tires for very long journeys as they will wear down more quickly. Tires heat up on long trips which can cause blowouts on worn out tires.
Check your car’s air filter: A plentiful supply of clean air to your engine improves the vehicle’s performance and efficiency. Also check and change your car’s cabin (pollen) filter if it has one, as these are often ignored in services and, if worn, adversely affect the quality of air in the cabin.
Inspect the belts and hoses: Older cars have more than one belt that you would need to inspect for wear and tear. Newer cars have a single engine belt that does the job. Turn it sideways to look at the surface. If it looks old and worn, replace it.
Test the battery: Car batteries last three to five years. If you aren’t sure how old it is, check it with a voltmeter and replace if the charge is dropping below 12 volts. Inspect the terminal for loose connections, damaged cables and dirt or corrosion. Corrosion and dirt can be easily cleaned with a mixture of baking soda and water. Damaged terminals, however, need to be replaced.
Check lights and wipers: You need to make sure all the lights are in good working order and the wipers are giving a smear-free view. Test the brake lights, turn signals, taillights and headlights (high and low beams). Fix anything that isn’t working.
Check the brake pad and Shoe: Does the brake pedal feel soft even after you have replaced or topped up the fluid? You might have worn pads. You don’t want to lose the brakes on a steep downhill drive. If you aren’t sure if they need to be replaced, get in touch with your service center and have them inspected.