So the long weekends are here again; there is the Hari Raya Qurban on the 12th of September and Malaysia Day on the 16th - that's two long weekends or one long week of holiday for those who believe in self-declaring their holidays. Understandably, interstate roads like the North-South Highway and the Karak highway would be congested with motorists going away for a holiday but travelling long distances isn't all fun and games if your vehicle, the one thing that's transporting and shielding you from the elements isn't at it's best.
Here's are the FIVE MOST IMPORTANT parts of your car we think needs attention before you set off!
When you realise how ineffective such bald tires are on wet roads, it could be too late. Credit: jkowners.com
It's actually shocking how a significant number of motorists can neglect this aspect of their vehicle; the one part of the car that's actually in contact with the road. We've even spotted some cars resting on tyre's that are completely bald - literally just rubber over metal. This poses a huge risk to your long distance journeys as firstly, there's obviously no grip whatsoever left; secondly, a simple pothole would easily rip the tyres apart and a blowout at high speeds would not be very savoury.
That aside, as rain has been rather frequent and erratic, applying the brakes suddenly and rapidly on a wet road can easily cause the brakes to lock up and swerve uncontrollably. Be sure to also make sure your tyres are well inflated before embarking on the long journey as a shortage of even a few PSI of air can significantly affect your car's handling.
Engine Oil and other fluids
Always ensure your vehicle has been serviced with fresh fluids before going on a long drive. The sheer amount of moving components in your engine inevitably generates loads of friction, and such friction when created by moving metal parts can be very damaging in the long run hence the need for optimum engine oil to ensure that your engine runs smoothly. Make sure that oil levels are at an optimum too; either via the onboard computer or the more conventional dip stick.
Be sure to also check and service your radiator if required and have it topped up with actual coolant and not just tap water. For good measure, it would be prudent to keep at least two 1.5-litre bottles of preferably distilled water to refill that radiator in the event that it overheats.
A lot of us only realise that the spare tyre is flat only when we need it, it's understandable; just like how we only realise our passports need renewing when we're travelling abroad. Don't let this happen to you. If unfortunately you encounter a puncture, it would be wise to have a set of tools on standby in your boot to replace the tyre.
That said, also ensure that you have someone standing from a distance to divert traffic if you're stranded by the roadside or better yet have a reflective emergency triangle in place. Be sure to have a set of jump start cables as well.
Headlamps & Signal
While most do not bother to use their indicators, it's good to have them working when you really need it; especially for emergency situations that require you to turn on your hazard lights. Always make sure they are in working order as you may be indicating from inside the car but you wouldn't know if they're actually doing their job on the outside.
When travelling at night, a clear sight of what's ahead is pivotal. What we can suggest is have those foggy headlamp covers cleaned for starters. Secondly, have a look at those headlamp bulbs, if they appear a little dim, having a fresh set of bulbs would go a long way in ensuring the safety of your passengers and other motorists. While accesory shops may sell solutions to clean up that fog, apparently you can even opt for the simple combination of a little toothpaste and a cloth to clean them!
There are many components that can give way in this aspect. The most common problem is aboviously worn out brake pads; then you have brake hoses that could leak and discs that could warp. When travelling on highways, how well your vehicle is able to reduce speed rapidly but steadily depends on the competency of all those components as braking from 110km/h requires more "bite" and endurance rather than slowing down from a lower speed.
If those discs have warped, even a light tap on the brakes for a couple seconds will cause the entire car to judder uncontrollably and disorientate the vehicle. When constantly slowing down from high speeds, brake fade can be another common occurence so have those leaky brake hoses checked out to ensure that braking performance is always at an optimum.
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