We all think that we are safe on the road because we use our cars every day. But, slowly over time, things start to rattle and fluid levels and tire pressure goes down. If you are going away over the long weekend, you don’t want to discover this when you are doing 120km per hour on the freeway, or you’re halfway to Sodwana.
Vehicle checks you must do before you go on a long trip
Many people send their car for a service before a long trip, but does that mean that you don’t need to do any vehicle checks before you leave? No
Even if you have just had a service, pull out the dipstick and check the oil levels. You won’t be the first or the last to get a car back and they forgot to refill the oil, and you don’t want to discover that half-way to Durban.
Check your spare tire – check the tread and the pressure. We were on our way to the Eastern Cape and my wife took the car to fill it up and check the tires. The petrol attendant got in underneath the vehicle with the air hose and came out and said everything was fine and we are good to go. About an hour into the trip, we had a flat tire. It wasn’t a problem. We pulled over and stopped and then we discovered that the spare had a faulty valve and the spare was completely flat. So, here we were on the side of the road with a car full of people, a loaded trailer and 2 flat tires. That added about 3 hours into the trip and lots of irritation. Be warned! Check the spare yourself, give it a couple of knocks to be sure that it is full of air and look at the gauge on the air hose to make sure the pressure is correct.
Trailers are wonderful things, but as someone said to me once, it’s just another axle and 2 tires to cause problems.
Make sure that the wheel-spanner from your car fits the wheel nuts on the trailer. I know mine doesn’t and I have to carry a separate wheel spanner for the wheel nuts on the trailer. If a friend of mine who spend 2 hours on the side of the road to Durban hadn’t warned me I would never have checked, or put a different wheel-spanner in the nosecone.
Walk around and check lights indicators. If you have a trailer, check those lights and indicators, especially the brake lights.
Do the paperwork!
Ensure your driver’s license and your vehicle license is still valid. Remember to check the trailer as well. We don’t get our renewal notices like we used to, and sometimes we forget to check the license. This mistake cost me R500 the other day.
Make sure your insurance is up to date. There is a very interesting insurer called Meliorleaf that has developed an insurance product especially for people under debt review.
If your car is written off by the insurance, then they will give you a buying order for either R60 000 or R100 000 depending which package you take. If your car is written off and the insurance pays the bank back what you owe them, you are left stranded. At least now you have a buying voucher from the Independent Dealer Association (IDA) to get a replacement vehicle until you can make another plan. This works very well for people under debt review because you can’t get another car finance deal while you are under debt review.