How should I prepare a car for a long journey after prolonged parking?

My Toyota Noah has been parked for a while since I live abroad. I am back for Christmas and will use the car to travel upcountry. What are some of the checks I should do before driving the car? Alex.

Hello Alex, during prolonged parking, a vehicle’s fluids, electrical, mechanical, hydro mechanical and rubber components will deteriorate due to age, moisture, corrosion or rodent damage. When you drive the car at prolonged highway speeds, there will be a toll on fast moving parts and deterioration of oils and fluids due to performance in the hot and harsh conditions of fast moving engine, transmission or brake components.

A long trip check at the nearest garage is a good way to start. First, ensure you have safe (unexpired) and correctly inflated tyres with good tread depth and no physical damage.

Tyres are the car’s only contact with the road and their condition is crucial for safe handling and manoeuvering. Also, ensure that you have good brakes (acceptable brake pad width and up to date brake fluid). These help you to safely control or stop the car in the shortest possible distance.

Your car suspension should not be torn, worn out or collapsed. Suspension not only helps to make your ride comfortable, it also links the car body to the wheels.

All the car fluids and oils are important because they help to lubricate, cool, prevent corrosion as well as enhance performance of hard working moving components in the engine, transmission, brakes and steering. Check the fluid quantities and quality.

All fluids age due heating, oxidation and contamination by contact with dirt and deposits as they clean surfaces and transfer heat and dirt for filtration.

Your car’s user manual will advise how often you should change different fluids and oils and which correct type and grades are recommended for the different components of your car. Check all electrical equipment for operation such as battery, lights, horns and switches. Ensure you attend to warning lights on your dashboard or faulty switches for electrically operated components such as wipers, horns, windows. Confirm that all rubber components such as belts, hoses and pipes are not worn out.

Finally, check the ventilation or air conditioning system before cleaning the car in preparation for departure.

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