These days a vehicle has become an essential part of our lives, where we commute every day to our workstation, driving our kids to school, visiting relatives at the other end of the city or some weekend getaway. And people who think of their vehicle as a precious one, always keep it in great shape by with regular service checks. Though, it is good that your car is checked up by a professional (technician), but there are some tips that would help you keep your car in good condition. So here are some DIY (Do It Yourself) tips that you should follow before taking your vehicle on a long highway trip.
Check Engine oil and other Fluid levels
Let's start with one of the most important section, which is under the bonnet. Here you will find four main things that you should check before taking your car on tarmac - Engine oil, Coolant, Brake fluid and washer fluid for windscreen. To check the engine oil, firstly your car should be parked on a leveled surface, then warm up and stop the engine. Wait for a minute to allow the oil to settle down in the oil pan. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean and insert it back again. Now, pull the stick out again and check the level, it should be close to the high level mark on the dipstick. If the engine oil dark and close to pitch black, it is time to change the engine oil and if the level is low, oil top-up is the best option. In case you observe that your vehicle is consuming a significant amount of engine oil, then it is advised to carry an extra bottle of engine with you on the trip.
Checking other fluid levels, such as Brake Fluid, Coolant and Wiper washer fluid, which are relatively easy to check, as these fluids are contained in translucent bottle. All you have to do take a visual look at the level and ensure that the level of all three individual fluids is between high and low level mark, and if it is way too low, then add more of the respective fluids, while in the case of coolant you can also add water. Though, if the engine is still hot, then try not to open the coolant bottle, as it would be pressurize. Also during this visual inspection, make sure there is no leakage.
Every manufacturer has a different setup for air filter, but it is easy to take it out from the housing (check the owners manual, if you are planning to change it yourself). If you already know that it’s been a long time that you haven’t changed the air filter, then you should probably change it now.
Lights and other electrical equipment
Checking the electrical equipment does not actually means you have to open-up the wiring system of the vehicle. All you have to do is check whether the horn, wipers and all the lights are working properly. Carrying a few spare bulbs (headlight, taillight, etc.,) is probably the best bet. Make sure your that the heating and cooling system (air conditioner) works properly. Not to forget to check the cabin or pollen filter that might restrict the air flow, consider replacing it.
Any new battery has a life period of 3 to 5 years. Go with a visual check for acid leaks or terminals are tight and not corroded. It is difficult to tell when the battery might die, could be anytime unexpectedly. However, while starting the engine, if you feel that crank is relatively slow, that’s a call for a new battery.
Tyres are one of the most important components that connect the machine to the surface. Firstly, check the tyre condition, whether the tread on them is deep enough to prevent aquaplaning. Make sure that the tyres are inflated with the recommended pressure, that would give proper griping and stability to the vehicle. The tyre pressure is usually mentioned either on the driver’s side door-edge or else on the door post. Another thing to be added is that if you feel there is a vibration with the increase of speed of the vehicle, get your tyres balanced. Apart from that, also check tyre pressure in the spare wheel, you can easily find the tyre information on the sidewall of the tyre. Few cars such as Innova has the tyre secured underneath, do check the mechanism, it might be rusty.
If the wiper blades are not cleaning the windshield properly, you can replace them, as they don’t cost much. Also check the windshield washer jets are working properly and not clogged. Carrying a windshield washer fluid with you is a good idea.
There are few things that you should carry in your car can while you are on a road trip – Jack, wheel wrench, jumper wires, emergency stop sign, flashlight, basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and set of most common sockets. Just in case you find yourself stuck in an emergency situation! What else you can carry is a – First-Aid kit, water, food or energy bars, etc.
Also carry a phone charger and newspaper, though newspaper sound weird, but they are more efficient in cleaning a windscreen, compared to cloth. Do not forget to carry important documents such as driver’s license, registration, insurance certificate, and pollution certificate, etc. with you, be it a drive in the city or anywhere in the country.