Road trip!
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SOME time this summer you may be planning a road trip, whether it's just for a day to visit an attraction on the north or south coast, or for a whole weekend driving to see the various sights. What's sure is that you will need not just a reliable car, but a car that is equipped to get you to your destination and back, without any mishaps.

Putting gas in the tank is the bare minimum that you'll need; there are a host of other car checks that you will need to make to ensure that your car is good to go, no matter how new your car is.

In fact, general automotive mechanic Sean Robertson says, even if you just drove off the new car lot, flying the hood and checking to see that everything looks good, won't hurt.

He gives these other tips for ensuring that you're ready for the road.

Check your tyres

Do your tyres have too much, or too little air? Low tyre pressure decreases your fuel efficiency, while overinflated tyres can cause accidents. Double checking your tyre pressure is a critical part of your road trip preparation. The sticker inside your driver's side door will tell you the recommended tyre size, and the pressure for your particular vehicle.

Check your fluids

Windshield fluid, engine and transmission oil levels, brake fluid and radiator fluid are the fluids you should keep an eye on, to ensure that they are at the right levels. You can top up if necessary, but ensure that you are using the manufacturer recommended products, as included in your car manual.

Check your spare

Ensure that 1) You have a spare; 2) The spare is inflated and not dry rotted; and 3) That you have all the tools to change your tyre, in case of a flat. These include the lug tool, jack and wheel lock key, if your car uses one. If you don't remember how to change your tyre, do a quick refresher on YouTube before you hit the road. Some full-sized spares only fit the back or front wheel, so know that you may need to do some manoeuvring, depending on where the flat is.

Have supplies handy

Have a first aid kit, sanitary wipes, microfibre rags, spare gas canister, batteries, flashlight, towing rope, jump-start cable, phone charger and water in the car, along with your luggage and other personal supplies. You have to be prepared for any emergency, even while you'd hope to not have one.

Check that everything works

Check your lights, including park and brake lights, high and low beams, indicators, air conditioner and windshield wipers to make sure that everything works, before you head out. The last thing you want is to have a cop tailing you to give you a ticket for a brake light you didn't know was out, or to be driving in rain then realise that your wipers needed replacing, or to be trying to clean bird poop from your windshield, then realise that the washer fluid pump isn't working.

Have your emergency numbers ready

Take photos of your fitness and registration and insurance documents, and write down the number for AA roadside assistance, if you have it; mobile car battery delivery company, and recommended mechanics in the area you're visiting. Also, know what gas stations and rest stops are on your route so you can plan properly.

LICHELLE PALMER

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