Getting ready for the holiday trip

Holidays - aren't they great?

While most of us are now back at work after holidays in January, many of us do wait until the settled weather and less crowded conditions of February before we head out on our much- earned rest.

But some things often don't change. As usual we all leave the most important duties to the very last minute. The food, the drink, the holiday arrangements and of course making sure the car is ready and reliable for the family trip to wherever our destination may be.

Have you even prioritised these chores yet? Here are some tips to help make sure your car is safe and reliable while you are away travelling.

There are many things you are able to inspect on your car. A simple inspection can at times reveal a small fault or worn component that just may cause you some inconvenience during your holiday travels. Obviously there are numerous items on the modern motor vehicle that deteriorate over time. The key is to detect these worn items prior to total failure and have them repaired or replaced.

Your trusted automotive workshop is only too willing to do this for you. Staff will perform a pre-trip safety and reliability inspection on your vehicle prior to your planned holiday and usually at a very reasonable cost. I can assure you this is money very well spent. If you look after your car, your car will look after you!

But there are things you can do yourself. The following 10 checks are well worth performing, and 10 minutes of your precious time now could well prevent numerous days of inconvenience later through unwelcome mechanical misadventure, especially during your holiday.

1) Is the car's service due? If it is due or near the scheduled mileage, get your mechanic to address this issue immediately. If the service is not due, then checking all fluid levels is important. Engine oil, radiator and brake fluid levels, windscreen washer fluid etc. If the service is almost due, why not still have this important work performed prior to departure. It all adds up to total peace of mind.

2) Has your engine's cambelt been replaced within the last 90,000 kilometres? If not, it is extremely important to attend to this matter prior to departure. A broken cambelt could not only destroy your motor, but all your family's holiday plans as well.

3) Check the condition of your car's fan belt and coolant hose. Is the fan belt set to the correct tension and free of any visible deterioration? Are the coolant hoses free from oil contamination and perishing? Are there any coolant leaks from loose hose clamps?

4) Inspection of the wiper blades. Do the blades clear rainwater from the windscreen immediately? If not, replace them. Is the windscreen clean, both inside and out? A teaspoon of white vinegar in a litre of warm water cleans the windscreen exceptionally well.

5) Check all lights including brake lights. Are the headlight beam heights set correctly?

6) Tyre pressures and the condition of your tyres are vitally important. Confirm tyre pressures are set at the manufacturer's recommendations. Check tyres' tread depth and look for cuts or bulging. Is your spare tyre in good condition and inflated to correct pressure? Is the car's tool kit complete and accessible?

7) If you own a diesel-powered vehicle, have you purchased enough diesel Road User Charges mileage to cover your entire holiday trip?

8) Are the WOF and registration current? If these two items expire while you are away it may be inconvenient to update them during the holiday.

9) Empty your car of any unnecessary items. Reducing vehicle weight will enable you to achieve much greater fuel economy.

10) Is your car's insurance up to date?

And finally, here's a very important point - you need to check the condition of yourself. Driving long distances can tire most drivers. Sometimes this tiredness goes undetected. Why not limit your driving distance to a more acceptable level? Maybe swapping drivers from time to time is a sound idea. An alert driver is a safe driver.

Also, let's be courteous on the road.

Let's be patient, we don't need to rush, rush, rush. We all wish to arrive at our destination safely. Yes, all of us do!

Happy motoring.


Taranaki Daily News