We all have our basic checklists for car preparation before a long road trip such as checking the tyres and filling the fuel tank but here are three simple, quick and overlooked tips to keep you safe on a long distance drive.
Check the spare tyre pressure
Often we take the spare wheel hidden in the trunk of the car for granted and simply overlook its presence. One day I was caught out when a tyre was punctured on a dirt track with a sharp piece of wood. My vehicle was old enough to carry a spare tyre rather than a modern run-home pump – up tyre. However I hadn’t checked the spare beforehand and it was also flat. So do check the tyre pressure of your spare wheel before you set off. Also if you are in the countryside away from assistance, know how to use your car jack and air compressor pump.
Fill your windscreen washer tank
There’s nothing worse when driving into the sun at either end of the day and trying to look through a dirty windscreen. Yes, you may have cleaned it before you departed, but dust and insects can soon clog vision. When you flick the windscreen washer switch, you immediately discover that you have run out of fluid. Having to slow down and peer through a dirty and smeared windscreen is dangerous. At night, oncoming headlights will also look hazy through the dirty glass. To avoid this, check and fill your windscreen washer fluid reservoir before you set off so you always have sparkling clean glass.
Wipe your headlights clean
For extra safety, when cleaning your windscreen, get out and also wipe down your headlights. All you need is water and a rag. They too become covered in dust and insects reducing their glare. Modern cars have headlight cleaners, but not so the older models.
What does a grasshopper plague do to a car?
To illustrate all the above, years ago I drove past Australia’s wheat pastures in summer through a cloud of grasshoppers on the wing. That evening the front of the car was splattered with insects. It took me ages picking out wriggling bodies and dead creatures from the honeycomb radiator grille with a pair of tweezers. Wiping the headlights clean was also tiresome with the dried sticky residue. You can imagine the state of the windscreen. It was horrible.
With public holidays at the end of this month, it’s a great time to check your vehicle, choose an interesting route and hop in for a fun and safe road trip away from the crowds.
Happy and safe long distance driving. See you next month.