Peter chats about a few of the safety tips we should be thinking about and checking on before travelling longer distances and includes a handy workaround for checking spare wheel tyre pressures that most of us often forget about. Watch the video now.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 20 seconds.
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Edited for clarity and readability
Welcome to Let's Talk Automotive and in today's episode on How Things Work, we're going to deviate a little bit and rather give you some suggestions on what to check on your vehicle prior to embarking on a long trip, as well as nice things to have in preparation for that long trip, which ultimately will make your life a little bit easier should a few things go wrong.
So let's start at the front of the vehicle. And I want to first encourage you guys to make sure that you've got some spare fuses. Most vehicles, if you open up the main fuse box, you'll see there are some spare fuses so that being the case, you don't have to worry there. The second thing that I would suggest carrying as a spare is some spare light bulbs and that includes for your main beam, as well as your indicators.
Now, just a quick trick that I'd like to share with you is that when fitting a light bulb, it doesn't matter what car we have a look at, there's always one side that's compact and not very easy to get your hands in to replace the light bulbs and then there's always a side that's a lot freer and open. So in this case, I would suggest you just make yourself aware of which side is easier to gain access to, to replace a light bulb.
Another area that's critical to have a look at is your battery terminals themselves. These terminals do work themselves loose over time. Now, while we might not see the effects of that with our short driving distances that we travel, on a long-distance, particularly at night, if our terminals are loose, our battery’s not going to charge properly and we're going to start to see a few problems, not the least being with our lights themselves.
Another area that we should check are our fluids. Now at this point over here, you'll notice that all the areas where we can check and replace fluids are indeed colour-coded. So if we have a look at the radiator cap, for example, you'll see it's colour-coded red and the reason for that is we really shouldn't be opening this radiator cap. If we are so low on water in our radiator, we really should take it to a dealership to replenish.
The reason for that is that we want to get rid of all the airlocks out of our radiator. But most importantly, from a safety point of view, normally our radiators are extremely hot and so if we open these while this is still too hot, we could burn ourselves quite severely in terms of the steam coming out. So we have our water reservoir over here, which as you can see has a green cap on, and that's really where we should be filling up any fluids for our radiator.
The second area obviously is oil. Now, this is normally checked quite diligently by the guys that fill our cars up as well at the fuel station. So normally not an issue over here. Over here, you can see our hydraulic fluid reservoir, also yellow. So you can fill this up, but just obviously make sure that you get to the correct levels. Never overfill any of the fluids, by the way.
And then our last one is our window washer fluid over here. Now, one of the things I would suggest particularly on a long trip, is to put some detergent into our water reservoir and the reason for that is that if we are experiencing a lot of rain on the road with our drive, normally there's a lot of oil that's been put down, by all the other traffic and that gets flicked up and onto our windscreen.
So even if we have fluid on our windscreens, it's normally not enough to clean our windscreens, but if we've got detergent in there it normally sorts that out quite easily.
Now moving to the side, if we have a look at our tyres, there are a few things that we want to check with our tyres. The first is, do we have our tyre jack and spanner in the vehicle? You don't want to be stuck on the side of the road and discover that we don't have those. The second thing we want to check is the tread depth. And we want to make sure that not only do we exceed the tread depth that is a legal requirement, but to make sure that the tyres are in generally good condition as well. We also want to check while we’re over here, we can have a look at our brake pads, and this is quite easy to see over here. These brake pads are still quite thick, so there's still a lot of life left in the brake pads. And then lastly, we're going to check our tyre pressures as well. And tyre pressures are critical in terms of our brake performance, as well as the handling of the vehicle and the general safety of the tyre itself.
While we're at the side of the vehicle, there are two things that I would suggest you check. On our cluster, we can see how many kilometres we've got on the vehicle. So it's always a good idea to make sure that the distance that we're going to travel on our holiday does not mean that we're going to exceed a service interval. If that's the case and you can't get the car booked in on time, a courtesy call to the dealership and an email is normally good enough for them to just make a note of it and they normally handle that pretty well if you get back.
The second thing is, is that you have a look at your insurance policy and see what kind of roadside assistance you get with your insurance policies. And if you do have roadside assistance, make sure that you write down the telephone number of the roadside assistance so it's easily accessible. When we do break down, if it's dark and it's raining and the roads are very busy, we tend to panic a little bit and forget about those kinds of things that we have.
Now moving to the rear of the vehicle there are a couple of other things that I’d suggest that you have a look at in terms of the preparation for your long-distance trip. Now, two things. The first is we mentioned checking tyre pressures, but one of the tyres that we very, very rarely check is our spare wheel. And the reason for that is that it's normally packed with luggage and it's difficult to access.
So what we've done is we've actually prepared a little kit over here that has a normal tyre valve on it over here, and this is connected to the spare wheel, as you can see over there. So this is connected to the spare wheel valve here, and now it doesn't matter how much luggage we've got, we've always got access to be able to check our tyre pressures on our spare tyre. So very, very cool piece of equipment over here that you can make up literally for under R100.
I would also suggest carrying some form of tyre weld. You might find yourself in a position where you've got a puncture and it's in a really bad place to jack the car up. It's not very safe; it might be at night as well. So carry some tyre weld. The suggestion here is to really carry two bottles of tyre weld so you can completely inflate your tyre in an emergency.
I'd also suggest carrying a small toolbox so that there's nothing that you want for when it comes to on-the-road repairs. Another thing that's vital is to carry a flashlight. Now, I know we've got torches on our phones, but they're really not good enough when you're trying to work inside the engine bay. So these provide enough illumination, but there's also a safety element with these because they can actually flash and alert other road users.
If possible, try and get yourself a little breakdown kit. And normally these are quite comprehensive. So in this one, we can see we've got some jumper cables, which always come in handy. We've got a tow rope over here, and by the way, while we're talking about the tow rope, make sure that you've got your tow hook for the front of the vehicle.
We also have some gloves, which is quite nice because if you've worked on some dirty areas, even if we've changed a tyre, for example, it's always nice to get back into the vehicle with some nice clean hands. We've got some nice reflective jackets over here, which is critical, especially if we're working on the side of the road at night. And then, of course, we have our triangle, our safety triangle.
So I'm sure you'll agree that if we prepare properly, it's going to take a lot of pressure off us. We're probably going to have a much more pleasant drive with peace of mind, knowing that if something does go wrong, we probably are going to be able to get out of it quite easily.
So that's it from us at Let's Talk Automotive. We trust that you guys have a fantastic break over the festive season. Please drive safely, get back home, and we look forward to seeing you on future episodes of Let's Talk Automotive.
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