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Preparing your car for a long drive [checklist]

Henno Havenga
By Henno Havenga
August 31, 2020

Suzuki ErtigaWith lockdown blues taking their toll, we’ve all been dreaming about when we can visit family and friends again, or simply hit the open road and enjoy the journey. The day has finally come, and you’ll want to make sure your car is 100% ready so you can just throw in the snacks and get going.

We are all looking forward to taking road trips again. Make sure your car is ready!

giphy-Aug-31-2020-02-50-30-81-PMImage source: Giphy

Doing some pre-emptive checks on your car is especially important when it has been standing for long periods of time. The last thing you want on your first post-lockdown road trip is to get stuck next to the road or find your paperwork is out of date.

Though you can’t control the other drivers on the road, you can make sure your car is in good shape and can handle any potential incidents

PRINT THIS CHECKLIST TO HELP ENSURE YOUR CAR IS SAFE AND READY FOR YOUR FAMILY'S ROAD TRIP.

Email me the checklist

1. Is your car licence disk valid?

You don’t want to get any fines while you’re away. Make sure your car's licence disk is up to date (and won't expire while you're away). If it's out of date, you can renew it at the Post Office* with minimal effort.

If you plan on using your trailer, you should check that the licence disc is valid on your trailer too.

If your licence disc has recently expired, get to work on renewing it. You can also contact your closest licensing centre to confirm with them what the grace period is due to lockdown to ensure you don’t exceed your grace period and incur a fine.

*Selected Post Office branches

You’ll need to take the following documents with you when you renew your licence:

  • Your ID document
  • Proof of residential address
  • If you live in an informal settlement, you must bring a letter with an official date stamp from your ward councillor confirming your residential and postal address.

Driver’s licence renewal process:

  • If any of your details have changed, you’ll need to fill out a notification of change of address or particulars of person or organisation (NCP) form.
  • You must fill out either a motor licence renewal notice (MVL2) or an application for licensing of motor vehicle (ALV) form.
  • Pay the licence fee specified on the notification (cash only).
  • As not all centres operate the same way, we suggest contacting your local licensing office to find out when and how your licence can be renewed during the lockdown.

2. Does your windscreen have any cracks or chips?

A cracked or chipped windscreen is dangerous (as it plays a role in your vehicle’s structural integrity and it could easily break on a bumpy ride) and hinders visibility. If you have any noticeable damage to your windscreen, you should fix it immediately.

3. Are your wiper blades clean and in good condition?

Dirty, worn-out wiper blades can actually reduce visibility in the rain, creating a potential hazard for the driver. Your wiper blades should be replaced at least once every two years. Want to find out how often you need to change various car parts? Download our ebook,  How to extend the lifespan of your car.

4. Is your spare tyre fully pumped?

Out of sight, out of mind. . . We often forget to check if our spare tyre is actually still fully pumped. Make sure your spare tyre is properly inflated and in good condition to avoid getting stranded in an emergency. Don't forget to check the tyres on your trailer if you plan to use it.

5. Are all your lights and indicators working?

Make sure all the bulbs in your car work to keep your family safe and avoid a fine.

Wheels24 writes, “Ensure that all bulbs on your vehicle are in working order so you can see; be seen by others, and clearly indicate your intentions.” Get someone’s help to check your back lights and brake lights.

If you plan to tow your trailer, ensure your lights and indicators are in working order in advance.  If you are on your own, a reflective surface such as a window can help to check the functionality of your lights.

6. Are your tyres in good condition?

We often don’t give our tyres a second thought – until something happens. Your tyres are vital to your safety, and overall car performance. You need at least 1.6mm tread on all four tyres. Anything less than this is not only illegal but also dangerous.

7. Have you checked your brakes?

Make sure your brake pads and drums are in good condition, and you have sufficient brake fluid. Vehicles that have spent a lot of time in the garage or driveway during lockdown will need a proper brake check before you get going. Contact your dealer to either book your car for a check, or ask for a referral to their preferred supplier.

8. Is your radiator working?

Make sure your car’s cooling system, including your water pump, is doing its job properly and keeping your car from overheating.

9. Are your shock absorbers and suspension systems in good condition?

Make sure that your car is in optimal condition to safely handle any bumps or obstacles in the road.  We recommend that you consult your favourite Suzuki Dealer.

Wheels24 writes, “If your vehicle’s ride quality is harder than it normally is, for instance rolling a lot when turning into corners or needs a longer distance to stop, then worn or damaged suspension parts like shocks or struts may need to be replaced.”

10. Are you due for a service?

Booking your car in for a service before you set off on a long drive will put your mind at ease, knowing that an expert has checked and fine-tuned your vehicle.   Servicing your car before your road trip will ensure that your dealer has fixed anything that could cause problems on your journey.

Once again, the lockdown has upended everyone's schedules. Most manufacturers have extended the service and warranty periods for vehicles that were due during the lockdown. Contact your dealer and find out whether this applies to your vehicle and when it can be booked in for a service.

Email me the checklist

Read up on how to service and maintain your car before you set off on your family road trip, and make sure your family has a safe and happy journey.

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