How to check your vehicle before a long journey

21 September 2018 / Lindleys Autocentres

Unless you're passionate about cars, it's common for most of us to miss minor issues with ourvehicles until they’re staring us in the face. Without knowing the ins and outs of a vehicle, It can be difficult to spot the complications that'll hinder your safety whilst driving. This is especially true if you’re unsure of what type of issues you are trying to scope out in the first place.

Unless you are a mechanic or someone who deals with cars daily, the telltale signs may not appear to you. To help provide a bit of guidance on this topic we’re going to break down a few, manageable steps and tasks to ensure that neither you, or your cars safety are compromised.

General Inspection

When we think of checking the condition of our car we sometimes forget that the exterior counts too. The condition of your windows, tyres and body need to be taken into consideration before addressing other issues.

Checking to see if your tyres are properly inflated may seem like a no-brainer, however, you’d be surprised by how many people forget to check them before it’s too late. If you do drive on under-inflated tyres there is a higher chance of a blowout occurring.

To minimise this risk, check the pressure rating printed on the side of each tyre and make note of them. If possible your tyres should be kept as close to the recommended level as possible at all times.

It is also important to check your tyres are in good condition. For safe travel, the tread depth on your tyres needs to be 1.6mm, by law. If this isn't the case, you will need to get them changed immediately.

Regularly testing your headlights on both low and full beam to see if they are working properly. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a car in the dark with no headlights. Without a spare you're likely to find yourself at the side of the road waiting for help. The same goes for your indicators, breaking and hazard lights. All of which should be checked every few weeks.

Windshield wipers also need to be checked fairly regularly. They're no exception to becoming worn out, especially during high or very low temperatures which can mess with the rubber making it less effective. Simply do a quick check with washer fluid and water to see if they are still working effectively.

The last thing to do is to address any warning lights on your dashboard. We’ve got you covered with this quick breakdown.

Mandatory Inspection

Your cars engine oil levels are extremely important as it server the purpose of lubricating your engine, prevent friction and overheating. This keeps your Engine healthy.

To check the oil level:

  • Remove the dipstick and wipe off the residue onto a cloth before inserting it back into the tank.

  • Remove the dipstick for the second time, but instead of wiping it clean look at the level the oil has reached between the low and high limit. If the oil level is too low, you will need to add more.

  • During this inspection, it is best to check the condition of the oil. Typically, oil that is clean and in good condition will be translucent and slightly amber in colour. If your oil is slightly darker, it is still classed as safe to use. However, if it is dark brown or black it will need replacing.   

Since your bonnet is already open, it is time to check and see if any other fluids need topping up. All vehicles rely on different forms of lubrication to run smoothly and to prevent overheating. Using your vehicle manual to help you, locate the reservoir and add antifreeze. Antifreeze will prevent water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing up in colder weather.

The car's battery is next. You should regularly check for a buildup of corrosion. If there is any it is best to get it checked or replaced.

Brake pads typically need to be replaced every 50,000 miles but keep an ear out for any signs of wear. Squeaky brakes will often give away that it's time for a replacement before you experience failure, but be sure to replace them if they do. We suggest getting tyres checked a couple weeks prior to setting off on a long trip to prevent the chance of failure.

If you have had your vehicle for 3 or more years, it is best to go for regular check ups. Especially before you embark on a road trip. The older your vehicle, the more important these checks become.

If you require guidance on any car maintenance checks, we have a wide range of services on offer. With years of servicing experience, our team loves to help answer your vehicle-related questions.

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