Essential car maintenance before and after a roadtrip

It’s one of the most exciting times in the South African calendar — long weekends galore (that’s if you plan your leave days right). And extra holiday time means more time to travel, explore Mzansi, and visit family and friends.

No matter your plans, if you’re travelling by car, it is essential to get your vehicle road trip ready to avoid a breakdown.

Before you shift into gear, do this four-step check on your vehicle.

1. Clean car inside and out
A regular wash and clean can prevent dirt and bacteria build-up and keep the car smelling fresh and clean. A clean exterior can also reduce the glare from other vehicles on the road and improve your visibility, especially when driving at night.

2. Lights, engine, tyre check
A lights, engine and tyre check is crucial not only for your car’s maintenance but also for your safety on the road. Check the headlights, indicators and hazards. When you fill-up, ask the petrol attendants to check the car’s oil and water levels and tyre pressure. And don’t forget your spare wheel.

3. Don’t carry a heavy load
Your car may be spacious, but there’s a limit to how much weight it can drive around. Check your car’s manual, or get the information from your driver’s door, and make sure not to overload the vehicle. Overloading can affect your car performance and make overtaking or steering challenging.

4. Battery check
Every road trip should start with a visit to the trusted battery specialists. They will test the battery’s condition and give an accurate report on the battery’s health.

With the pre-road trip check complete, don’t forget post-road trip maintenance of your car. It is equally important. After covering the long-distance, driving wear and tear, your car needs TLC even after you’ve parked it. Here are the five important checks.

1. Check the interior and clean up
Always clean up spills to prevent them from settling in the material and causing bad odours. Clean dirt and remove unnecessary items that can add to the car’s weight. This will help fuel consumption. Get the car washed, the dirt picked up on the drive isn’t good for the body paint.

2. Check tyre treads
Check your tyres again. Driving causes wear and tear, and South African law states that the tyre tread should be at least 1mm for them to perform effectively.

3. Brake test
With all the driving and stopping during your road trip, there’s no better time to check the car’s brakes. A squeaking sound is usually the first sign that the brake pads need to be replaced.

4. Monitor the dashboard
Check for warning lights. You can avoid hefty repair costs by maintaining your vehicle and making sure everything is working properly.

5. Get your battery tested
Sluggish starts, corrosion on battery terminals, and even a swollen battery aren’t good for your car. Always get yours tested with the trusted battery specialists.

The battery specialists recommend motorists get their vehicle battery tested at least twice a year. Their comprehensive free battery test also looks at the alternator and starter before delivering a report on their assessment. As the trusted battery specialists, they’ll only replace a battery if it’s necessary.