Going on a road trip? Get your car ready in 7 simple checks

If you haven’t yet checked that your car is ready for your road trip, don’t stress! We have seven simple checks to ensure your car is roadworthy — all in under 10 minutes.

1. Top up your oil and water

First on the list is an under-the-bonnet check. It’s a fairly easy one to tick off the list; just as your friendly petrol attendant to help you out. They’ll check your water and oil levels and top up depending on how thirsty your car is.

2. Check your wheels, including the spare

This is a crucial check — after all, it’s literally where the rubber meets the road.

First, ensure that the tyre pressure is at its recommended level (which can be found on the inside of the driver’s door). You can use the air pumps at the petrol station to check your tyre pressure, although asking a petrol attendant for help might be easier.

Second, check that you have enough tread on your tyres. How? Insert a match stick horizontally between the treads of the tyre. If the match is level, then you’ve still got enough tread. If it protrudes, it’s time for a replacement. And while you’re at it, make sure you have a spare wheel in as good, if not better, condition than your current tyres.

3. Inspect and test your brakes

Checking your brakes may not be as simple as some of the other checks. However, there are a few things to watch for. Generally, if your brake pads are wearing thin, they’ll begin to make a squealing or screeching sound when they are being used. The sound is caused by a small, metallic shim indicator that is embedded in the brake pad with the purpose of signalling when the pads need to be replaced. If you hear this regularly, it might be time to have your brake pads replaced.

That said, the screeching can also be caused by a thin layer of rust that can build up after a big rainstorm or other wet conditions. If this is the case, using your brakes a couple of times should remove the rust and stop the screeching. If the screeching persists, the cause is unlikely to be rust and you might need to get your brake pads replaced.

Another way to check your brakes is by using them. It sounds ironic, but the effort required to stop may indicate how worn they are. If you don’t have to press hard to come to a complete stop then it’s likely that they don’t have to be replaced yet.

4. Make sure all the electrical parts are A-OK

It’s time to press some buttons and sound some horns. This is to make sure that all of the electrical functions and parts are doing their job. These checks aren’t really possible to do on your own, so it would be helpful to have a mate that you can boss around to assist.

What do you need to look at?

  • Head and dip lights
  • Parking and number plate lights
  • Indicators
  • Stop and tail lights
  • Hooter
  • Windscreen wipers: Are they up to the task? They should be able to move up and down and the rubber shouldn’t be ragged or torn
  • Battery: If you’re having trouble with starting your car every morning, there’s probably an issue with the battery
  • Alternator: A warning sign will show up on your dashboard if there’s something wrong

5. Test that all doors open and close

This is a simple one. Open and close. Why do you need to do this test? Touch wood, but if something goes wrong on your road trip and you need to get out of the car as quickly as possible, you can.

6. Give your windscreen a look-over

A clean windscreen is always pleasing. It’s like the world is more clear and colourful. But a clean windscreen will also help you spot any chips and small cracks that might be hiding. Chips can reduce the strength of your windscreen. If you go through a pothole that chip could turn into a crack and nobody wants that when they’re out on the road.

If you find a chip, head to your nearest glass repair shop for help.

7. Test that all seat belts work

Seat belts are one of the most important safety features in your car. Therefore, it’s imperative that they function correctly and show no signs of wear. You can test this by clipping in all of your seat belts and giving them a tug to see that they are secure.

For the three-point seat belts, where the belt is on a reel and feeds out from above the user’s shoulder, give each belt a (fast) tug to make sure that the reel locks and holds firm.

Ready, set, GO!

Now that you’ve ensured your car is roadworthy, filled up with fuel and safety belts fastened — you’re all set to hit the road! If there’s anything else that seems worrying, like a mysterious rattling sound, or your car feeling all jumpy, then it’s best to take it to a professional.