When you are driving out in your car on the road, you are either going for a short trip or on a long trip. In both the cases, there are elements of uncertainty and unpredictability. Any unforeseen eventuality may happen. Even if your car is in tip-top running condition, even a minute flaw in any component of your car may disrupt your journey, by way of any mechanical issues or breakdowns.
Therefore, it is essential that you check your car before driving. The following are few tips that will take you a long way on your journey by car in an uninterrupted, safe and smooth manner.
Check Your Car Before Driving
1. Check the Fuel & Fluid Levels
According to the intended distance of your destination, you have to plan your fuel. Check the fuel content of your fuel tank and plan the fuel you need to fill up from the next fuel situation. While doing your fuel planning, you should take into consideration, the average fuel consumption of your car.
Besides, you should also check up the brake fluid, coolant, and windscreen wash levels. Refer to your Owner's Manual and check where the fuel reservoirs are located. Besides your clutch fluid, check the power steering fluid.
2. Air Pressure
The maximum air pressure of your tires is mentioned in your Owner's Manual. It is also mentioned in the body where the driver's doors shut. Ensure that the pressure of the tires are maintained at the maximum level and does not exceed it. Ensure that the spare tire is at its maximum level because that will save from a lot of trouble or even standing in case the running tire gets punctured.
3. Change of Oil
If you are going on a long trip, it is essential that you change the oil of your car; as otherwise, your motor may be subjected to additional stress. You may be thinking that since you have added extra oil earlier, oil change may not be required. But that is a misconception.
Moreover, since you are continuously adding cleaner oil, the oil may look clean, and you may not be bothering about complete change of oil. If you are going on a long trip, this is the right time for changing the oil. Never forget to change the oil filter when you are changing the oil.
4. Lights and Signals
Take the help of another person for checking the lights and signals of your car. Sitting in the car, turn on each light and signal and ask the person if the particular light or signal is working or not.
In case you find some not working, replace the bulb. It will be still better to carry some spare bulbs for head lights, tail lights, indicators and reversing lights. Since changing to front lights takes time, don't leave its replacement till the last moment.
Sometimes, light may not work because a fuse may be requiring replacement. Also, check the alignment of your headlights by using a garage door. Adjust the alignment if you find it incorrect because poor headlight alignment may reduce visibility at night; particularly if the road is not lit.
5. Air Filter
An adequate supply of clean air to your engine gives better performance and efficiency, particularly if your car is on a long trip. Therefore, besides checking the air filter, change the cabin filter or pollen filter of your car. If not properly serviced, it may cause the supply of poor quality of air to your car cabin.
6. Windows and Wiper Blades
Clean the windows of your car for the best visibility. Check the condition of the wiper blades and replace the same with a new one, if you find it necessary.
7. Tread of Tire
The tread of the tire must be at the minimum of 1/16th of an inch or 1.6 mm. In case you find the tire tread less than 1/12" or 2.5mm you may consider replacing the same, particularly for a long trip by car. While on long trips and consistent movement, the tires may heat up and even cause blowouts.
8. Carry Emergency Equipment
The emergency equipment of car includes spare tire, cell phone, updated route map, flashlight, pliers, screwdriver, adjustable spanner, first-aid kits and fire extinguisher. Also, carry the mandatory Reflective Warning Triangle if you are moving in a member state of European Union (EU).
In case you are moving to a right-hand driving state, ensure that your beam detector is working well so that other road users are not dazzled with your right-hand driving.
9. Engine Temperature Gauge
Check the gauge before you start for a long trip. Check the temperature gauge of the engine after the engine had time to warm.
10. Temperature Controlling Systems
Check the heating system, vents, and air-conditioning system to confirm that they are working well. This enables you to defrost or defog their windows whenever required.
Even if checked by a mechanic, check the terminals of the battery and if you find any defect, replace the same immediately.
Driving Tips for Winter
Driving in adverse winter weather calls for a different driving acumen from what is required for usual driving. The basic adverse elements are less sunlight, continued and heavy snowfall and floods. The following are the tips for driving in winter:
1. Prepare your Vehicle
Prepare your vehicle to have clean lights, fully charged battery, clean window screen and wiper blades, tread and pressure of the tires, perfect brakes, and fluids for washing windscreen. Carry tow rope, shovel, Wellington boots, de-icing equipment, first-aid kits, a car blanket, warm clothes, working torch and emergency rations.
2. Prepare Your Journey
Collect the present and future weather bulletin related to the area of your proposed journey. You can get it from national or local weather bulletin. As the weather condition may change quickly, you must depend upon the latest forecast. If the too bad weather is predicted with warning signals, you may consider canceling or postponing the trip.
3. Prepare Yourself
Tell a closer person, where you are going so that he can alarm if you don't return in time. You may choose an alternative route if your original route is impassable. Make your fuel tank full. Have a fully charged mobile phone so that any emergent situation could be communicated. You may undergo specific training for driving in rough weather and terrain.
4. Driving in Snow
Reduce your speed to avoid any chance of skidding. Drive at a speed at which you can bring your vehicle to stop at a visible distance. Slow down at places wherever required. Sudden braking may cause your car to spin. Keep adequate distance with the front vehicle.
5. Getting Stuck in Snow
When stuck, don't try to revive your engine to go forward. Instead, move your car backward and forward out by applying the highest gear. If nothing works, then ask help of passerby for pushing the car forward.
6. Caught In a Snow Drift
Instead of leaving your car there, call your breakdown service. Avoid running the engine to keep it warm.
7. Strong Winds
Sit quite, keeping both your hands on the steering wheel and expect sudden gust of wind, particularly with the passing of high-speed vehicles. Avoid driving over bridges.
You should use jumper cables when your car is stuck for the battery getting discharged. Find a boosting car and keep both the cars closer and clamp the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead car and similarly, the negative terminals; till your battery is charged and jumpstarts.
Just as you should look before you jump, you should check before your start your car to go out for a long trip.