10 Vital Things to Check in Your Car Before a Road Trip

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Road trip and car maintenance - Cheki Nigeria

The festive season is fast approaching and you might have a road trip to see your friends and loved ones as part of your agenda. It doesn’t matter where you’re going – It might be Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, Delta State, Kano State or a trip to Ogbomosho. Regardless of your destination, before you embark on this journey, you need to ensure your car is in prime condition.
What are the top 10 things you should check in your car before you put it on the road for that road trip that you have looked forward to for so long? Take a look at the list below:

Car Light

Regardless of whether your trip involves driving at night or not, you should do everything humanly possible to make sure that your car lights are in good condition. If you will be driving at night, you don’t want to risk having problems with your lights in the middle of a road trip. Even if you won’t be travelling at night, you might need to drive around at night much later; after you must have arrived at your destination.
If your budget creates room to change your brake lights, you should get this done. This is because the bulb that powers it might be burnt out as it constantly gets switched on and off whenever as you keep applying the brakes.

Tyres

You can’t manage your tyres for a road trip. Don’t forget that the tyres are the parts of the car that connect your vehicle to the road. Driving for several hours means you need tyres that won’t disappoint you at some point during your road trip.
When checking the tyres, take a good look at them to ensure they are not worn to the point of jeopardising your safety. One way to establish the condition of the tyre is to check the tread depth indicator.
If you notice one or more of your tyres having any visible damage, replace them. Your tyre pressure is another element you should check from time to time. This is not restricted to road trips alone. You should cultivate the habit of checking this regularly.
Underinflated tyres will wear on the sides and edges. Meanwhile, when your tyres are overinflated, they will wear in the middle. Neither of these options is good for your tyres. Consider having your mechanic take a look at your car suspension. This gives your steering prime stability and maximizes friction between the tires and road.

Drive Belts

The moment you spot anything that looks like a crack on your drive belt or if it looks worn out or damaged, have it changed. The risk of embarking on a road trip with a damaged drive belt is that you make your car vulnerable to a complete engine shut down.
If your drive belt is damaged, the car will struggle to charge the vehicle’s battery. As a result, the car will eventually overheat. This will prove inevitable because the belt powers the water pump. A damaged drive belt can leave you stranded after a few kilometres of driving.
Regularly servicing your car saves you from the trouble of checking or changing your drive blade as this would most likely have been taken care of. However, you still need to check.

Clutch and Brakes

In addition to checking the brake pads while the car is at home, you should also take a look at how it responds when it is applied while driving. Do you notice any pull to a particular side of the car when you apply the brakes? This shouldn’t be the case. If you notice that you are struggling with the brakes while driving, it is completely unsafe to continue driving such a car.

Oil and Coolant (Fluids)

A regular check on your car that does not include a look under the bonnet is a complete joke. Your car cannot run without essential fluids like oil and coolant. They need to be checked before a road trip.
Most people don’t check this as regularly as should. Over an extended period of time, this makes your car unsafe to drive. For instance, if your brake fluid gets too low, it can jeopardise the functionality of your brakes.

Steering

The fact that you drive every day doesn’t make you an automobile expert. Before you check your steering before a road trip, consider getting a qualified technician to do this for you.
The sound of your car’s engine, the way it vibrates as well as the suspension of the car can help you tell if your car is in any form of distress. The best place to check your car’s steering is during driving conditions.
If your steering keeps pulling to any particular direction, there’s a problem. Your car should not veer to the left or right when you’re driving. The biggest culprit here is a wheel alignment problem but of course, it can be fixed.

Leakages

Before you drive your car, always take a look underneath the car to see if there is any leak. If you see oil or coolant stains on the floor underneath the car, consider getting a mechanic to take a look.
A leaking car is bound to create problems for you at some point but cars in good driving condition are not supposed to leak.

Brake Pads

The golden rule for your brake pads is that you should always check them for wear. The composite inner part and the metal outer part are what the brake pads are made of.
Your brake pads will need to be replaced once it wears below 5mm in thickness. If you have to click your handbrake more than 4 times before the car gets held in place, they are not in good condition. Brake pads in prime condition should not take beyond 4 clicks before holding the car in place.

Wipers

Before you embark on your road trip, you need to check your wipers. You should never find yourself driving without functional wipers. The wipers ensure that water is cleared from your windscreen in the case of a downpour.
Without wipers that are in good condition, your vision could be impaired while driving if lines of water get on your windscreen. One easy way to test your wipers is to spray water on your windscreen and see if the wipers can get the water off.

Spare Tyre

No matter how great your tyres are, you need to have a spare wheel, a spanner and a jack in your car before you set out to travel by road this festive season. It’s even more important to ensure that they are all in good condition.
Your spare tyre also needs to be properly inflated to avoid having a wheel that can’t serve you in the case of an emergency. It is most likely that you have not had to use your spare tyre in a while. Therefore, you should check the condition of the tyre before the road trip.

Final Thoughts on Safety Precautions For Your Car Before a Road Trip

Don’t leave anything to chance when it involves the car you intend to drive when travelling this festive season. It doesn’t matter how much distance you plan to cover. What is more important is to ensure your car can get you to your destination without leaving you stranded in the middle of the road.
Have you ever been stranded in the middle of the road while travelling? You can share your story with us in the comment section.

A Nigeria-based writer and blogger who has written and edited for top brands including The SUN, Punch, Newswatch, Pulse.ng, Bigsam Media, Nigerian Bulletin, Swish Interativ, Hello Nigeria, National LIFE, iCampus, Jobberman and Cheki.