Get your car ready for a road trip

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

A boy and a dog hang out of a car window by the beach

You might be prepared for an out-of-town adventure, but is your vehicle ready to carry you?

Oil

Check this when the car is parked on a level surface, and the engine has been off for at least a minute. If oil is low, top it up – it should take about half a litre. The handbook will tell you which grade to use.

Coolant

This is best checked when the engine is cold. Check the handbook for any warnings/procedures pertinent to your vehicle. If a top-up is needed, undo the caps indicated in the handbook, and check with a service centre for possible causes.

Hoses

Squeeze all hoses to check for soft spots, cracks or splits, and that they’re firmly clamped. If in doubt, get them replaced.

Tyres

Recommended tyre pressures are found on a placard on the car, often on the end of the driver’s door.

Also look for low tread, uneven worn patches, bulges or other damage, which means you may need new tyres and/or a wheel alignment.  Check the spare too.

Terminals

The battery works best when its terminals are clean and tight. It is common to find corrosion. Clean the terminals by disconnecting the battery (negative or earth lead first), and wash with a solution of warm water and baking soda. Spruce up terminals with a wire brush, smear with petroleum jelly to prevent build-up and reconnect battery (negative or earth lead last).

Fluid

Automatic transmission fluid is checked via a dipstick – follow the instructions in the car’s handbook. If the level is significantly down, needs frequent topping-up, is a dark colour or has a burnt smell, get it checked by a mechanic.

Windscreen

Even a small crack or chip is cause for concern, as it makes the windscreen vulnerable to more serious damage. But it may be able to be repaired. Check this with the Windscreen Damage widget at racv.com.au – put ‘windscreen’ in the search field. For repair or replacement, RACV Auto Glass can come to you.

Blades

Fill washer reservoir, and check wiper blades for cracks or gaps.

Lights

Check you have no blown globes by getting someone to walk around the vehicle as you operate every light in turn.

Service

If one is almost due, get it done now. Ask that everything in these tips is included.                                      

Jeremy Bourke

RACV can help

RACV Total Care is RACV’s top-of-the-range roadside assistance package. It is the best option for those travelling around Australia. RACV Total Care covers any car you are driving as well as anyone driving your car. Unlimited callouts and up to $15,000 in benefits. Plus cover for caravan and trailer.

Written by Jeremy Bourke
March 14, 2017