We are lucky to be living in Sri Lanka, besides having beautiful scenic locations to take a trip to, we also have public holidays that help us do so. However, a long trip is a serious test for your vehicle and even a small problem such as a worn windshield wiper, out-of-balance tyre can cause a lot of troubles. . The next time you decide to take a long drive to your favourite holiday location in the country, make sure your vehicle is prepared for the long journey.
Besides checking under the hood, as instructed in the previous article, it is also important to take note of the vehicle’s overall performance.
Lights and other electrical equipment:
Check the horn, wipers and all the lights. A couple of spare bulbs (one for the headlight, one for the back) might be useful. Make sure your air conditioner works properly. Have a broken or cracked rear view mirror? Fix it before the trip.
Replace the wipers if they don’t clean the windshield properly. If you still have the original wipers installed, you can just replace the rubber refills. Check if the windshield washer jets are working properly. If the roads are wet, dusty or muddy, it’s good idea to take an extra windshield washer fluid with you.
Check the tyre pressure. Recommended pressure is indicated on the manufacturer’s label, which usually located in the driver’s door frame or in the glove box. You also can find it in the owner’s manual. If you feel a vibration at highway speed, have your tyres balanced. There is a safe limit of the tread wear. If the tyre is worn below this limit, it’s unsafe to drive. Uneven tyre wear indicates alignment problem.
Brakes, steering, suspension and drivetrain components:
Have your car inspected in a garage before the trip because many components of the brakes, steering, suspension and the drive train can only be properly inspected in a repair shop when the car is on the lift.
Here are just a few signs of possible problems:
- Feeling any vibration in the steering and the pulsation in the brake pedal while braking – have your
brakes checked for possible warped rotors.
- A clicking or popping noise when turning could be an indications of a bad or worn CV joint.Having a knocking or rattling noise coming from the suspension while driving over bumps? One of thesuspension components is probably loose. Have it checked, it might be unsafe to drive.
- Look inside the wheel arches – do all shock absorbers appear dry? A leaking strut or shock absorbershould be replaced before a trip. Once the shock absorber will lose enough oil, the car will startbouncing like a boat and any road roughness can throw the car out of the road.
- Does the car feel unstable and wander from side to side at highway speed? Is the steering wheel out ofcenter? Does the car pull aside while driving straight? Have the wheel alignment checked. Improperwheel alignment can cause handling problems, increased tyre wear and it’s very uncomfortable to drive
when the car constantly pulls to one side.
Spare tyre, wheel wrench and the jack:
Check the spare tyre pressure. If it’s a full-size (the same size as the others tyres) spare, the pressure should be the same as in the other tyres. If it’s a small temporary-use tyre, the proper pressure is indicated on the sidewall of the tyre (usually 50-60 psi). If your car has a spare tyre that is secured underneath, make sure it can be easily removed; the mechanism could be rusted. Check if the jack is still operable. If you have wheel locks installed, make sure you have the key and the wrench to open the wheel nuts.
Basic emergency kit for your car:
A basic emergency kit for your car can include:
- Jumper wires
- Tyre sealer-inflator can
- Tyre gauge
- Couple of rags and work gloves
- Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and set of most common sockets.Consider also a spare headlight bulb and a couple of fuses, bottles of engine oil, windshield washer fluidand coolant, an emergency stop sign or flares, an electrical tape, spare ignition key, etc.Don’t forget your personal emergency kit with First Aid kit and items like a blanket, a bottle of water,couple of chocolate bars etc.