Heading away for Easter? Good for you. If you are driving somewhere, now is a good time to do a vehicular fitness test. There is nothing worse than being away on holiday and having car troubles.
Actually, that’s false. Far worse would be to never get to leave on your holiday because said car packs up at the sight of the first ‘100’ sign on the edge of town. In this instance you have no excuse to keep you from going back to work! So if you want your car to make it through your holiday, or at least make it far enough out of town to forget about work, there are some basic checks you can do.
Warrant of fitness checks cover all the major safety components, but if you are coming to the end of your warrant period it might be a good idea to get in early and make sure everything is still as it should be before you take on that switchbacked hill in the middle of nowhere.
There are also plenty of things you can check yourself. Tyres, coolant levels and oil are all no-brainers, but it’s worth checking a few other things also. Windscreen washer reservoirs are worth checking, as are wiper blades.
While you are under the bonnet, it is worth checking other fluid levels too, power steering and brake fluid are things you don’t want to run out of and leaks can generate quite quickly (watch skin contact, this stuff is nasty). These are both usually stored in semi-transparent reservoirs similar though smaller than that of the engine coolant, so they can be checking with a quick glance. Also check transmission fluid levels if your car is an automatic, this is usually via a dipstick like engine oil (don’t be alarmed if the fluid appears red, this fluid is different to standard engine oil).
Don’t know your dipstick from your dipswitch? Do not fear! The library has miles of titles on auto maintenance ranging from advice for the complete beginner through to full workshop manuals and modification guides. If you don’t know where to start, try some of these:
- Our guide to the motor manual collection
- The car book : everything you need to know about owning, enjoying and maintaining your car / Steve Rendle.
- Lauren Fix’s guide to loving your car : everything you need to know to take charge of your car and get on with your life by Lauren Fix
- Clueless about cars : an easy guide to car maintenance and repair by Lisa Christensen, with Dan Laxter
- Vehicle maintenance for women by Charlotte Williamson
Great post Tom. Dare I suggest the best thing you can read before you go on a long drive is the New Zealand Road code ?. There’s some great info on speed limits, stopping distances, overtaking – that kind of thing.
I’d love to see a new book published called “Vehicle maintenance for men” *grin*
Such assumptions that women need a special edition, or that all men do actually understand car manuals.
Or a men maintenance manual? Hmm, that might be more of a self help book …
Believe it or not, I did see a teenager manual by Haynes the other day, so the concept might not be too far off …
good posting, really usefull
Great post and advice!!