Tyre Talk

The safety checklist for summer road trips

Before going on that summer road trip, make sure your vehicle is working well, and in optimal shape. Let’s take a look at the nine vital areas you should check out.

1. Check the engine oil
Before you embark on your epic journey, look at your oil levels. Think you are coming up close to a recommended oil change? Then do it now, better safe than sorry.

2. Give your car all its fluids
Don’t forget your car has several oil reservoirs. Your transmission and drive axle also need their oil. Ask your local car shop to change the transmission fluids and differential oils.

3. Check your rubber
Your car is filled with rubber hoses. While driving, these rubber hoses are exposed to high heat. This causes the plastic particles in the rubber, that keep the hose flexible, to break down after a while. When this happens the rubber will turn hard and might break. Whatever the hose contains, it will come bursting out if the rubber breaks. Not something you want!

check your rubber

The way the radiator hoses are fastened to the engine and the radiator put even more pressure on them. So, if the rubber starts to crack, most of the time it starts there. 

Look for bulges and blisters on the hose. These indicate that it might crack. You can buy a hose-patch kit, to restore it on the way, but check them before you leave to be sure.

4. Remember your belts
The engine belts can be checked by – manually – turning them a little bit upside down. That way you can see the surface that has to endure all the friction. If you can see cracks, or if they look torn and rugged, you should buy new ones.

remember your belts

If you have a newer car, you’re in luck. They have one large belt that runs the water pump, the air conditioning, the power steering AND the alternator. It’s easier to replace one big belt, but it’s all the more important to change it if it’s worn out.

5. Look at the engine coolant
When you pop up the hood, you can usually see a plastic bottle, with “engine coolant” written on the cap. Just check if the fluid level is still high enough.

But whatever you do, do not mix the coolants! If the fluid level is not high enough, then pour more in of the coolant that is already in it.

It’s not that hard, just look at the color. Green coolant is the most common, but there’s also orange coolant. Unless you want a rainbow soaking your engine, stick to the right color. If you have an older car, or as you might like to say an antique car, make sure the coolant doesn’t look like rust or dirty water. Change it, and bring the ecosystem of your car back to a stable level.

6. Don’t wear out your tyres
Look at your tyres, and then look at your feet. You wouldn’t want to go running with worn out shoes on, now would you? It’s the same with your car. The tread pattern on your tyres should have a minimum depth of 1.6mm. How to check it? Just put a 1 Euro coin into the pattern. Can you still see some of the yellow circle? Then it’s time to buy some new tyres!

check your tyre pressure

Check your tyre pressure. Remember that a low tyre pressure will waste fuel and also cause more heat to build up in the tyre while driving. This will wear down your tyre, and might even cause it to blow up. 

Checked the tyre pressure and the tread pattern? Then take a look at the side of the tyres. If you see any bulges or cracks, you might want to have it checked out. A tyre can make or break your ride.

7. Don’t forget to brake
Having good brakes might make a difference between life and death, so remember to check the brake fluids. Some of them absorb moisture, and as time goes by the fluid will begin rusting your brake elements. 

If water is mixed with your brake fluids, the fluid’s boiling point will be lower. When this happens, the brakes won’t work that well. You might like rollercoasters, but not when you’re driving a car on the highway!

If you have a newer car, your brake fluid is probably silicone based and won’t absorb water. However, it’s always good to have it checked out once in a while.

don't settle for a low battery

8. Don’t settle for a low battery
If your car sounds like a dying moose while starting it, you might have corrosion or a dying battery. If you see white chalky stuff on the battery, it’s corrosion. You can simply wipe it off with a wire cable-brush. Don’t try to wipe it off by using your hands, or you’ll be rocking the electrical disco. 

Worried you might have a dying battery? If you have a sealed battery, you can have the output voltage checked out at a gas station. If it’s not a sealed one, they can look at the electrolytes.

Make sure all the wires are well attached to the battery. If one comes off, it might spark an electric charge that can kill your alternator, putting down the entire electrical system of your car.

9. Take a test drive
You have to do the groceries? Drive to the shop, and try to feel the car. Check for noises, or other nuisances. If your car still has some problems after doing this safety checklist, you might need to have it checked out by a mechanic.