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It’s Christmas Time, There’s No Need To Be Afraid….

Yep, a great line from a mega hit of the 1980’s. It’s also valid for you as you consider the fact that the Christmas holidays are upon us and it’s looking like a  drive for a holiday is on the cards. But you’re hesitant, nervous, maybe even a bit afraid of taking the chariot out. Here’s a small checklist that may help you get through the Christmas yips…

Tyres: these round, rubbery, bits are oft neglected and to use a Bush-ism, misunderestimated in how important they are. There’s two crucial factors at play when it comes to tyres and they’re interlinked: tyre pressure and tyre age. On the side of your tyre will be numbers that will look something like: 225/55/17. These numbers indicate the size of the tyre and the wheel to which it’s fitted. Each tyre will need to be inflated to a proper pressure to ensure that the 225 (width of the tyre) is gripping as much of the road surface, wet or dry or gravelly, as possible. That correct tyre pressure also means that the 55 (height of the tyre’s sidewall in relation to its width) can flex properly and work with the width of the tread.Tyre profile

By having the right tyre pressure, you’ll minimise the stress on the rubber from being under or over inflated and, to a point, this is where the age factor comes in. Again, this info is built into the sidewall and there’s schools of thought that say that after a certain period, tyres should be replaced, regardless, due to the rubber deteriorating to a point where a lesser impact than a new tyre can handle will fracture it. There’s also the grip factor to consider, where a newer and more flexible tyre will hang on more than an older, dried out rubber construction. Bridgestone provided this link: http://www.bridgestone.com.au/tyres/passenger/care/age.aspx

Fluids: It’s absolute vital for we humans to have water and it’s the same for our cars, they need fluids too and not just for the radiator. Engine oil, wiper fluid, gearbox and possibly even differential fluid need to be at certain levels for your car to be at its best. Apart from the radiator, which uses a series of vanes to exchange heat for cooler air, engine oil is probably as important for not just lubricating the internals (like a good vino) but assists in heat management by doing so. lifetime-engine-oil-1Metal on metal inside an engine is not a good thing and with lower than specified oil levels, there’s less oil being spread around to do the job that a normal level will do. Therefore there’s more change of higher levels of friction and heat.

Wiper fluid is important in keeping the front view as unobscured as possible. Daily driving exposes the screen to dirt, soot, moisture and more and a proper mix of wiper fluid will assist in keeping your windscreen as clean as possible and will help in reducing glare and light scatter. Gearboxes and “diffs” tend to be sealed units nowadays, with no real scope for self maintenance. However, if you do have a car that has access, it doesn’t hurt to get these levels checked, for the same reason as the engine.

Interior: Keeping the interior clean not only extends the life of the materials inside, it also stops items like cans or cups rolling around and possibly becoming stuck under the brake or accelerator pedal. Washing the Car InteriorIf you’re a smoker, be aware that the smoke will settle on the dash and coat the inside of the windscreen, which can also obscure your forward vision. There’s plenty of products that will help clean the glass and there’s nothing wrong with a scented air freshener to give the car (and you!) some extra pep.

Fuel: This one’s not always as clear cut as it could be. Certain car engines are engineered and tuned to run on a particular type of unleaded for maximum performance and economy. Let’s say you’ve got a car that has, on the fuel lid flap, 98RON only. RON or Research Octane Number indicates the level of resistance to “detonation”.  The higher the number, the more finely tuned an engine can be to take advantage of the chemical makeup of that fuel, especially with today’s computer controlled ignition systems. Click here for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating

Many cars, like Holden’s Commodore, will be able to utilise petrol from anywhere from 91 to 98. A car tuned to run on 98 and fed only 91 will not be able to produce the amount of kilowatts and torque it should and will struggle to deliver a driving experience without detonation or pinging or knocking as it’s also known. Your vehicle’s handbook will also have this information. Diesel cars are generally easier to deal with as, for most production cars, there’s only one kind of diesel to worry about. However, some cars may require a diesel with a specified sulphur level; this is to do with the emissions system the vehicle has, and by using the specified diesel, will not only not clog your car’s system, it will reduce emissions.

Young female driverAnd as for you, dear driver, you can assist in making your journey as trouble free as possible by doing a few simple things too. Drive to the conditions, use indicators and headlights (check these before starting any trip, as well), take breaks and make use of the Driver Survivor stops. Drink plenty of water (staying hydrated helps keep a driver’s alertness level up), give other traffic plenty of room and always do a visual check on your car before commencing any journey. Oh, and absolutely do NOT drink and drive, nor is it wise to consider a long drive if you’ve had a “big night”.

Have a safe Christmas drive and, remember, there’s no need to be afraid.

2 comments

  1. Scott Walker says:

    Great info! An addition to your list, have your car checked and maintained before taking long drives or if you feel like there are some parts that are broken or faulty. call mobile mechanics if you need to.

    December 16th, 2015 at 11:45 am

  2. Chris of STTG says:

    Not just on Christmas but all-year round, you must check your car. Great info by the way.

    December 17th, 2015 at 12:07 pm