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Get prepared for the hols.

We don’t like spending it, but if we don’t we could be in for bigger bills around the corner.  A little bit of money spent in maintaining your car is well worth the bother.  With the school holidays around the corner, many of us will want to head away for a break.  This usually means longer journeys in the car, and longer periods away from home and the normal routines we find ourselves performing on a weekly basis at work, varsity or school.

If your car is nearly due for a service, don’t hold off till after the holidays.  Get it done now.  If you regularly have your car checked over by the book, then you’re sure to be fine.  Still, it could be worth having your mechanic check over your vehicle in readiness for your trip away.  Getting the odd little thing fixed prior to the trip away is worth it in the end.  So here are a few of the basic things you’re going to need to get checked over on your car.

  • Have the fluid levels checked.  First check the engine oil on the dipstick, making sure that the level sits on or close to the full mark. 
  • With the engine cool, see if the engine coolant in the reservoir is between Full and Low.  Top up if necessary.  Now take the radiator cap off and check the coolant in the radiator itself.  You should see the coolant sitting near the top.  If not, top it up.  If you think you are going through excessive coolant, definitely have your mechanic check over the coolant system for leaks.   
  • The fluid level in the transmission needs to be checked, and it is often this one that is overlooked.  Both the manual and the automatic transmission need the right level of fluid (and fluid that is not too old) to ensure that the gearbox is kept cool and lubricated.  In most cases, the fluid level in the transmission should be checked after driving.
  • Most cars now days have power steering.  Ensure that the power steering fluid is at the right level.
  • Neglect of brake fluid changes is a real problem.  If you haven’t changed the brake fluid in the last two years, do have it checked out and replaced.  Brake fluid picks up moisture easily and can cause corrosion in the internal surfaces – this is particularly nasty in ABS systems.
  • Is your battery in good nick?  Stopping your holiday in the middle of nowhere because your battery has died is extremely annoying. 
  • Still on things electrical, your spark plugs are also important.  Though modern ones last for a long time, they do have a use-by date. And if they are getting knackered, you best get a new set.
  • Your cam belt needs to be changed religiously, so if this hasn’t been done by the book, watch out – you have been warned!
  • Auxiliary drive belts get worn and can break if they get too old and loose.  Your mechanic will know if they need replacing after checking them over.
  • Correct tyre tread and pressures are important.  Do ensure that your tyres are in top order before setting off on holiday.  It’s a safety issue, too.
  • Suspension and steering components need to be in good order.  Again, this is a safety issue, and should not be forgotten or ignored.

Having had your car inspected, serviced and repaired before the holiday now means that you can relax and prepare the fun stuff for the holiday ahead.  The odds of you breaking down have just been greatly reduced.