PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – Keep your distance and avoid unnecessary contact – that’s the most important motto in times of coronavirus. For many people, their own car is the safest and most trustworthy way to get around, while those that rely on public transport are advised to adhere to Covid-19 health guidelines by wearing a face mask at all times, and sanitising regularly.
With inter-provincial travel permitted for the first time in more than five months since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, travelling long distance for business or taking a break as summer comes around is set to increase significantly.
And, with international borders still closed indefinitely to contain the spread of the coronavirus, local travel is the default choice – even for those aspiring to venture abroad. This makes it all the more important to get your car fit for the summer.
Do your tyres have sufficient tread?
REGULAR tyre checks are vital. Your tyres enable many systems: anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme and emergency braking pressure to deliver maximum effect. Each is vital to ensure the safest possible driving, especially for regions with sudden and heavy rain,
Adequate tread depth is vital. The legal lower limit in South Africa is one millimetre but some experts believe that to be too little: at least three mm is recommend by some experts. Very worn tyres can cause a fatal lack of traction on a wet road – made worse after a long and dry period when rubber, dust and other fine debris fill the tiny but vital rough surface of the highway.
Tests conducted by tyre-maker Continental have shown a car’s braking distance from 100km/h to be abut 12 metres longer on a wet road – but way longer on ”bald” tyres.
Under-inflation can also cause hassles
Under-inflated tyres can also extend braking distance and cause the tyres to overheat – and that, in turn, couls cause a tyre to fail – which could be fatal for people in the vehicle. And don’t forget to check the spare wheel – yeah, it can be a hassle but rather that than stuck on the highway at 2am or whatever.
Running tyres only 0.4 bar below recommended pressure can reduce their service life. And, before setting off on a long trip, you’ll need to amend tyre pressures to cope with the extra weight on board – and compensate for the extra load on the rear axle if towing.
Checking the tyres (when cold) on whatever you are towing is also vital to ensure stable performance at all times.
Finally, don’t forget to check battery fluid level, windscreen wipers/waterreservoir, and lights – a thorough check will prevent unpleasant surprises.