Ntsako Mthethwa
3 minute read
13 Dec 2016
1:16 pm

Ready for your road trip? Car safety festive checklist

Ntsako Mthethwa

It's the holiday season and it'll be a whole lot more fun if your car behaves perfectly throughout. Here's how.

Red triangle of a car on the road

Road trips can be great fun and economically feasible vacations with a little advance planning and budgeting even in tough economic times.

Whether you decide to go for a day or for a weekend or longer, it is important to prepare yourself for every contingency, especially when kids are involved.



You have to pack judiciously, but completely, check your vehicle to make sure it is roadworthy and find ways to keep it prepared for the journey ahead.

Heres a road safety checklist to ensure you reach your destination safe and sound.

  • Wiper blades – Inspect the condition of the blade material (it should be soft and pliable) for cracks or separation from the blade retainer.
  • Driver’s licence.
  • Lights – Check the turn signals, headlights and brake lights, making sure they operate properly. It is a good idea to have the headlights checked for proper alignment to have optimum lighting and prevent the “blinding” of oncoming drivers.
  • Tyres – Check tyres for excessive or uneven wear and tyre pressure. It’s important to check the tyre pressure when they are cold. The recommended tyre pressure provided by the vehicle and tyre manufacturers is designed to compensate for the increase in tyre pressure caused by the temperature of the tyre when it is rolling down the highway.
  • Overinflation would cause the tyre to wear prematurely in the center of the tyre. During wet conditions, an over-inflated tyre is more prone to skidding due to less tread contact on the pavement.
  • Under-inflation will result in sloppy, vague handling and cause the tyre to wear prematurely on the outside and inside edges of the tyre.
  • Fluid Levels – Lift the hood and check the engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, radiator coolant, and windshield washer fluid levels. Top up if necessary.
  • Belts & Hoses – Check hoses for proper fit, leaks, brittleness, loose clamps, and softness in the elbow areas. As for the belts, check for alignment, glazing, adjustment, and tearing and cracking. Replace if necessary.
  • Battery Connections – Check / clean battery posts and cable terminals for corrosive build-up. White fuzz that surrounds the cable terminal ends at the battery posts can easily identify a corrosive condition. Cleaning or removal of the white fuzz requires the removal of the cable terminals after washing them down with a baking soda and water solution. The best cleaning results can then be achieved by using a battery post and cable terminal-cleaning tool. Performing this small maintenance activity will ensure optimum performance from the vehicle’s electrical system. Remember to always remove the negative terminal first to avoid sparks.


Carrying an emergency kit can get you out of a tough jam when stuck on the roadside. You can easily create one by putting together in a box the items listed below:

  • One quart of oil
  • Two quarts of premix radiator coolant
  • Small funnel
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Pocket knife rags and waterless hand cleaner
  • Assortment of combination wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers
  • Flashlight / spare batteries for flashlight
  • Roadside flares / battery-operated roadside marker lights (if you don’t like playing with fire)
  • First-aid kit
  • Electrical tape
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Cellphone car charger

In my experience, when you’re totally prepared, usually nothing goes wrong. Happy holidays and remember to buckle up and adhere strictly to road rules!