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Make sure your car is raring to go

The festive season is around the corner and if you are planning a tranquil holiday in the bush, a scenic retreat in the mountains, or a blissful beach holiday at the coast, make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the trip.

“Millions of South African motorists will take to the highways to get to their favourite holiday destinations this festive season. A holiday is intended to be a time for relaxation and enjoyment, but the difference between pleasure and a dreadful holiday often depends on whether you take the time to prepare your vehicle for the trip. Many common vehicle problems can be picked up by inspecting your vehicle, listening for strange noises, noticing unusual odors or even sensing a difference in the way a vehicle drives,” said Auto Care Diagnostics (ACD), National Franchise Manager Hugo Grobler.

To help you enjoy a safe and hassle-free holiday with your loved ones, here are some tips on how to be safe and prepare your vehicle for the trip:

Tyre pressure and tread

Making sure your tyre pressure is correct is critical for safety as well as avoiding a dreaded blowout. It’s important to always use a tyre gauge to check your tyres rather than relying on having a “look-see”. Pay special heed to the dashboard tyre-pressure warning light, if present. Low tyre pressure wastes fuel – rather save those rands and cents for a cocktail at the pool.

Now that we’ve ticked the box on tyre pressure, your rubber is likely to have some kilometres on it, don’t ignore the tread. Take your car in to have the tyre tread checked on all four tyres to make sure they are not too worn or unevenly worn.

Lights

Turn on your lights when you’re in a garage or aimed at a wall or ask a friend or family member to walk around your car while you test the lights, this is a quick and easy way to check if your lights are working. Test all your lights, indicators, brake lights and fog lights one by one.

Steering

If you feel like you are having a tug-o-war with the steering wheel to keep your car tracking in a straight line, or the steering wheel vibrates too much, it’s likely your steering needs alignment or needs to be inspected by a professional.

Battery

A dead battery means your car won’t start, possibly leaving you stranded in an unsafe place or situation. Car batteries usually need replacing every few years, sometimes sooner. If your starter sounds sluggish, it’s either corrosion or a dying battery – either way, get it checked.

Spare wheel

A simple yet critical check is making sure you have a spare tyre, jack and wheel spanner, and that they are all working properly. You probably haven’t used your spare for a while, so check the tyre pressure before setting off.

Brakes and clutch

Always check the state of your brake pads by how your vehicle reacts to braking when driving; and if it pulls to either side under braking. If your brakes sound like they’re squeaking and scratchy or they’re shuddering, get them changed immediately.

Roadside assistance

Lastly, make sure you’re signed up with a good roadside assistance to help prevent being stranded in bad weather or the middle of nowhere. These service providers send help if, for example, you run out of fuel, have a flat tyre, or need a jump-start or tow.