Who doesn’t love to hit the road and take a trip with your near and dear ones? A road trip can be fun but it can also become dangerous if your vehicle breaks down. It is imperative to check if your car is in good enough condition to last your trip. Do note, that you may not be able to fix or prevent every breakdown but checking on the following points can help you prevent many.
One of the most important things to check before any road trip is the level of different types of fluids in the car. The easiest to check is the engine oil and should also be at the top of your checklist. It helps the engine work smoothly and can be checked via the dipstick in the engine bay.
Another important fluid to check is the coolant that is stored in the radiator. Having the optimum amount of coolant ensures that your engine doesn’t overheat under strenuous conditions. Do also check the power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, and transmission oil.
This goes hand-in-hand with the fluids as filters help prevent any unwanted materials in the fluid from going where they should be. Checking the cabin air filter will ensure that you get clean air blowing out of the AC in your car and there are no odours. Similarly, oil filters help prevent damage to the engine.
The various belts and hoses in the engine bay help keep different parts in sync. For this you may have to get your hands and even clothes dirty but it is supremely important. Get under the engine compartment to push on the belts to check their tightness and there should be very little slack. Checking on hoses is imperative as it helps you identify any potential leaks.
It cannot be stressed enough on how crucial tyres are for a car’s safety. Although it is ideal to get your tyres rotated on a regular basis, one should also practise measuring the tyres tread depth as it helps identify the remaining life of the tyres. The easiest way to check the tread is by measuring with a Rs. 2 coin and the depth should be more than 1.6mm to ensure maximum safety in all kinds of weather and road conditions.
Many may overlook checking the battery as you may not consider it to be that crucial to the working of a car. You may be wrong if you think that as the battery helps provide the power to the ancillaries in the vehicle such as the AC, power windows, infotainment system, and even the instrument cluster. More importantly, the battery provides power to the starter motors that turns on the engine. If your battery is around two years old, you should check if it is able to sustain the voltage and its terminals have minimal corrosion.
Checking the proper working conditions of all the electrical components not only ensures your safety but also of other road users. Check if all the bulbs in the headlamps, indicators, taillamps, and interior lights are working properly. The ones that are fused should be repaired immediately.
Brakes help stop the car and them breaking down should not stop your road trip. Check to see if the brake pads have enough thickness for them to last the entire trip and some more. The best way to check is to depress the brake pedal to spot any sponginess or play. If you encounter any of these, either the brake pads are worn out or the brake fluid is low. Also, check the handbrake by lifting the lever as much as possible. If it goes all the way up, it is important to get it tightened.
This may not be as important to the safety of the car in terms of mechanicals, but a clean interior helps improve hygiene and possibly reduce the fatigue of the driver and passengers in the vehicle. Bugs and bird droppings damage the paint, so make sure you clean the exterior of the car at least once a day during the trip to save the paint from damage.
If you can manage to check all of these points on your own, then kudos to your mechanical skills. However, it is still advisable to visit your neighbourhood garage to get your car properly serviced.
[Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/ Tim Mossholder]