Its holiday season and-S that means that long trips are inevitable. Whether it’s a visit to the village or a drive to your holiday destination. With it also comes concern about the reliability and safety of your car. As women who relish being able to take care of our cars, we need to be able to ensure that they are properly serviced before we can hit the road.
That said, here are the checks you need to make before you drive into the sunset.
Check Engine Oil level
Engine oil keeps the engine running smoothly and prevents friction between all the moving engine parts.
This is done when the engine is cold which can be before you start your engine or 10 minutes after the car has been turned off. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it off with a clean rag then reinsert it. Remove it and check the level of the oil against the bottom notch which is the lower limit and top notch which is the high limit. If low, that is an indicator to add some more oil.
If you are wondering what oils to use, Shell Helix oils are a good option as they help clean the engine, reduce friction, redistribute heat and prevent corrosion and rust.
Coolant is the fluid that absorbs the heat from the engine while being circulated to the car's radiator. Without it, the engine would overheat leading to engine failure and mechanical breakdown.
The best part about coolant check is its simplicity. The coolant reservoir is plastic and shows level of coolant in the car. All you need is to observe whether the coolant liquid is below the lower limit. You should not let it go below that limit but it’s always safer to have it all the way up to the full limit.
You can use Premium Coolant if you are looking for an affordable and reliable brand.
Check brakes and brake fluid
We cannot stress the importance of having reliable brakes to avoid causing and being in accidents.
First point of focus should be the state of the brake pads which should not be worn out. Indicators of worn out pads include a screeching metallic noise when you hit the brakes. The other indicator is a smooth shiny surface on the pads as compared to the rough surface on new pads.
You need to get a mechanic to replace them for you.
The second point of focus is the brake fluid which cools down the wheel bearing and brake pads. The color of the fluid is the main indicator on whether it is time for a change. Brake fluid in good condition is usually golden yellow in color. Any other color could indicate that the fluid is burnt and needs to be drained and replaced immediately. The process is done by a mechanic.
If you are wondering what brake fluid to use, Dot4 Premium Brake and Clutch Fluid is a good place to start.
Transmission fluid and power steering
Your car is supposed to run smoothly without shaking, jerking or making noises. The Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is the lifeblood of automatic transmission systems since it cleans the gears, conditions the seals and works as a hydraulic fluid for the gear system. Without the fluid, the engine is likely to shut down or stop working completely.
ATF is sweet smelling and bright red in colour. It is best checked when the engine is running and on level ground when it has had a chance to circulate around the system. If the fluid is found to be dark or has a burnt smell, it needs to be replaced immediately.
ATF is often used as power steering fluid in Kenya. You can try the Shell Spirax S5 ATF X Synthetic oil which is lighter but with exceptionally strong stability that is resistant to oil degradation.
Wiper washer fluid
This is the water that comes through the nozzles when you want to clean the windshield. It is very important when you are experiencing poor visibility due to liquids or dust on the windscreen.
Just open the washer fluid reservoir and check the level. If the tank is less than half full, you need to refill it. You can choose to use soapy water or just plain water. In countries that experience winter, the fluid is usually mixed with antifreeze.
You need to also ensure that your wiper blades are in good condition. The rubber in the blades tend to wear out after 8-12 months. If your blades are torn, cracked or heavily worn, it is advisable to replace them as soon as possible to avoid instances where you might lack visibility.
Tyres and tyre pressure
Tyres are undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of car safety.
We will first look at treads. When a tyre tread is low, there is a higher chance of accidents as the grip of the tyre on tarmac is greatly reduced. Some tyres have a tread wear indicator bar mouled onto the tread. The minimal requirement for tread depth is 1.6mm although to be on the safe side, don't let it drop to less than 3mm without replacing the tyres.
Next look at tyre pressure. Make sure you fill your tyre with the recommended pressure according to your car manual. To check pressure, remove valve cap on the tyre, firmly press the gauge head on the valve until the hissing sound stops. Then read the pressure on the gauge.
To fill the tyre, present the preferred psi on the small screen, then firmly fix it on the valve until you hear a beep indicating that the process is complete. Make sure your return the valve cap back on.
Ensure that all the tyres including your spare is properly inflated.
Remember to check that you have the tyre change toolkit. It comprises of a jack, lug wrench, lug nut and of course the spare tire. For safety purposes ensure you have with you a lifesaver, the metal triangle that notifies drivers that you are not able to move due to an accident or engine issue, an extinguisher in case of any fires, a pair of jumper cables in case you need to jumpstart your car. Do not forget a first aid kit and torch.
The most amazing thing though is that Shell Service stations across the country will check your car for free after you fuel. Besides topping up your wiper water and checking tyre pressure, they will check under your bonnet and perform the 5 essential lubricant checks for free! How’s that for service!
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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke