10 things to check before a long drive

Wednesday December 06 2017

Apolo Edson Arinaitwe

Many people will be travelling to catch up with family up-country. But before you get on the road for that long road trip ensure you have everything in order. Some of the parts you must check out include.

Most new radiators have overflow bottles marked min and max water levels, which are easy to find. Older cars fill via the radiator cap.
Never open them while the engine is hot or running. Top up with a 50 50 mix of water and antifreeze coolant.

The minimum legal tread depth is 3 millimetres. Less may land you in jail for a weekend before appearing in court.
Get the right pressures at a filling station to avoid burning more fuel, wear the tyres and suffer poor handling.

Spare tyre
It is little worse than having to change a wheel, only to find the spare missing, flat or damaged. Also check the jack, its handle and the wheel brace are there and fit your car.

Engine oil
Without oil, your engine will overheat, weld itself together and self-destruct. With the engine cold and the car level, check the dipstick.
Top up as necessary via the cap at the top of the engine, and give the oil time to run down to the sump before rechecking the level. Do not overfill.

Windscreen washer bottle
It is difficult looking through two arched smears of exploded flies, top up your washer bottle before you leave. You can use water, or detergents that will smells nice. Also check your wiper blades for ware and replace if necessary.


Go through all your lights, indicator, brake, dip, full beam, fog one by one. Either get a friend to watch for blown bulbs, or park by a white wall or shop window one night to see them yourself.

Fan belt
Check for cracks in the rubber or excessive play. A prolonged shrieking while you are driving means either it is loose and slipping. Do not forget the timing belt too.

Park on a clean tarmac, then check underneath for oil or water leaks after a few hours. Even a small leak can lead to dangerously low fluid levels on a long journey.

This is the time to clear out your boot all unnecessary weight that will waste fuel. If it is full of boxes, mouldering sports equipment and junk that has never made it into the house.

All emergency equipment

Emergency equipment includes: flashlight, screwdrivers, pliers and an adjustable spanner.
Although usually absent; flares, medical kits and fire extinguishers may come in handy in worse-case scenarios. Carry a reflective warning triangle too.