JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The end-of-the-year (Christmas, for many, of course!) holiday in South Africa often means a long drive and with that will come the usual ghastly toll of collisions, crashes, tragedy, and family terror.
Good and sensible sober drivers will probably survive the carnage but, too often, there is little that can be done to avoid a life-taking event.
Gumtree Autos’ Jeff Osborne has taken the trouble to list five basic vehicle safety checks before you head off. Probably the best is his suggestion that the family car be comprehensively serviced before packing in the luggage and the kids but. if that isn’t possible, he says it’s essential to give your vehicle a once-over in these key areas:
CHECK THE TYRE RUBBER…
TYRES. A tyre blow-out high speed can be fatal. Avoid it by having a tyre dealer run a (usually free) comprehensive check on all five wheels (yes, remember the spare that lives, unloved, in the boot). Such a check can make sure you don’t have dangerously worn or damaged rubber. Also check that all wheel-changing equipment is there (and functional) and do another tyre-pesssures check when you fill up before heading north, south, east or west
BRAKES. Brake-failure is a common cause of serious collisions. If you concentrate on them you can tell if your brakes are in trouble. Is there more travel in the brake pedal than usual? Or a lack of sharpness in the braking response? Is there an unhealthy grating or squeaking sound when you brake? Any doubt at all should send you straight to a professional.
…AND THE WIPER RUBBERS, TOO
WINDSCREEN. This needs to be structurally sound to ensure – cracks or chips could mean total failure if some road rubbish hits the glass at high speed.
WIPERS. Poor visibility is very dangerous. Your wipers (seriously, they are cheap and easy to replace!) must work properly and so must your windscreen demister. Also make sure there’s water in the screen -washer reservoir (some say one drop of dishwasher liquid in the reservoir is useful).
LIGHTS. Check ALL your lights at night – that’s the only time you can see if some are dim. Remember the brake lights. In most vehicles it’s inexpensive and quick to replace a faulty bulb. (In fact, The Corner adds, why not carry some spares in the glove box?)