Get your car in shape for holiday travel

Thursday December 13 2018

A vehicle with low oil levels is at risk of

A vehicle with low oil levels is at risk of damaging its engine and delivers a rough performance that severely impacts your safety, power and fuel economy. PHOTO BY Edgar R. Batte 

By Roland D. Nasasira

It is that time of the year when most motorists drive upcountry to spend the festive season with their families. However, what is important to remember is that the mechanical state or condition of your car determines whether you reach safely or not.

Mark Katabazi, a motorist, advises that besides your busy schedule, drive to the garage and have every component of your car inspected. He recommends giving a mechanic enough time, usually a day or more to allow them do a good job. “When I am to drive upcountry, I allow my mechanic do a test drive on my car. It is then that he is able to tell what needs to be serviced from his findings on the road,” Katabazi says.

Brake pads
Eric Amadi, a mechanic at Dalas Auto in Bunga, says brake pads are one of the sensitive car parts you must replace before getting on the road. They are a crucial part of a car’s control system when driving.
“On a highway, there are many cars and motorists driving as they wish. In case of any emergency where you have to stop or control the car, your car brakes are the first tools to save your life,” he says.
Brake discs
In the event that you have your car inspected by the mechanic and it is found that your brake discs are old, you should consider having them replaced. This is because they work in collaboration with or rub against brake pads to control or reduce the speed of your car.

Engine oil
Not only should you confirm if you have the right engine oil levels but you should also make sure that you put engine is using the right oil type. Amadi reasons that right engine oil levels are important to avoid incidences of engine knocks at the worst times such as on the highway.
“Some motorists tend to wait until their cars experience engine knocks when they remember to have them serviced. Check your dipstick check and confirm if you have the right engine oil levels or if you may need to top up. If it is old, it is advisable not to top up but to replace the oil,” Amadi advises.
Technically, an engine knock is a clicking or knocking sound within the engine compartment. It is an indicator that points to a mechanical problem in the engine and could be due to engine oil, oil filter, oil pump or oil sump trainer.
When you experience an engine knock, it is advisable to park the car in a safe place and check oil level. Sometimes the warning lights do not appear on the dashboard and could mean that the oil pressure is low because the oil pump is not picking up enough oil.

Car lights
If you are the kind of motorist who travels or drives at night, your car lights are your secondary eyes. They should be in proper working order just as the brakes pads and brake discs should. These include the indicators, brake lights, fog lights and the headlights. Have someone observe from the car rear whether your brake lights work because sometimes they may not be working yet you are not aware.

Without a gearbox, be it in automatic or manual transmission vehicles, it becomes hard, if not impossible, for your car to change the speed at which it moves. The shift of gears in the gearbox, according to Edgar Kaweesa, a mechanic at Vine Motor Garage in Kisaasi, also determines the amount of energy produced by the engine to match the different speeds at which you drive. “One of the things that your mechanic should check out for before getting on the road is the gearbox oil. If it is inadequate, your gearbox will experience friction which leads to a mechanical breakdown,” Kaweesa explains.

Suspension system
Before getting on the road, make sure that your shock absorbers and suspension bushes are in the right mechanical condition. This is because most, if not all upcountry roads are rough terrain and bumpy in nature, characterised with lots of potholes and humps.
If your shock absorbers are worn-out, you will not be comfortable as you drive. You will feel every pothole or hump as you hit them and this sometimes causes lower back pain. If you are driving a distance of approximately 300 kilometers, consider replacing your shock absorbers and bushes for extra driving comfort.

Like brake pads and brake discs, tyres are also crucial parts on your car. Amadi cautions that you should avoid driving your car with worn out tyres because any slight slipperiness as a result of bad tyres leads to collisions. This is because worn-out tyres do not brake properly on a highway even when your brake system if intact.
“It doesn’t matter if you are driving a long or short distance. The negative impact of worn out tyres on a car is all the same to its driver and the occupants. When your tyres are old, they can easily burst and skid off the road when it is raining,” Amadi stresses.