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How to prepare your vehicle for a long journey.

Now that the December break has arrived, it's time to hit the road. Visiting the beach? Visiting the bush? Don't get lost. No matter where you're going, you need to make sure that your car is prepared for a road trip so that a breakdown or other automotive issue doesn't ruin your vacation.

Here is AA Road Safety's helpful automobile maintenance checklist to get your vehicle ready for the road:

  1. Open the hood and check your engine's water and oil levels. If necessary, fill them up. Make sure your brake fluid is adequate, and don't forget to fill up your windscreen washers' water supply.

  2. Test the car's battery: Keep track of any danger indicators, such as a delayed car start or an illuminated engine light. Check the battery in your car to see if it needs to be replaced, if there are any leaks or if it appears swollen.

  3. Windshield wipers: Do your front and back windscreen wipers exhibit any of the four S's? To maintain the best visibility on your road trip, it may be time for new blades if they are streaking, skipping, slipping, or squeaking.

  4. Clean it up, since unclean windows are more likely to steam up while you're driving at night and will enhance glare from other cars' lights. Similar to this, clean your unclean mirrors because they reflect the lights from the cars behind you and cause glare in your eyes.

  5. Check your tires and fill them up to the recommended pressure (located on the driver's side inside door panel or next to the car's fuel tank). Check the wear on your tires as well. According to South African law, tire tread depth must be a minimum of 1 millimeter all the way around the tire. Don't forget to examine the state of your spare tire as well.

  6. Turn on your car's lights and make sure that they are all functioning properly from front to back. This includes your emergency hazard lights, brights, and indicators.

  7. Don't pack too much in the automobile.  There is a maximum weight limit for your car. Your safety is at danger if you exceed that limit, since overloaded vehicles are less stable on the road and can be more difficult to steer. Vehicles that are heavily loaded are slower to overtake and stop. The driver's door of your car will have the maximum weight capacity printed on it.

  8. In an emergency, you should always have a few essentials in your car, regardless of whether your car experiences a dead battery or breaks down on the side of the road.

  9. Always make sure you've taken the time to become comfortable with your road trip route by mapping it out. The N3, as well as the N1 and N2 to Cape Town, typically see an uptick in traffic during the school breaks as people travel to different places. Keep an alternate route in mind at all times, and monitor the traffic and road conditions along your intended path.

  10. Last but not least, make sure you're prepared for any roadside emergency.


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