Whether you’re planning for a staycation with your loved ones or heading home to meet family and friends during the balik kampung season, it is important to learn how to stay safe before hitting the road.
There are many important things that a driver should know before any road trip. We have put together the top five tips any driver - newbie or pro - can refer to when you are planning to spend a few hours on the road.
Tip 1: Check Your Car Tyre Pressure And Tread Depth
Under-inflated tyres can be a safety hazard as they can lead to loss of control while driving, especially during wet road conditions. The recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle can be found on a sticker inside the driver's door. If there is no sticker there, you can also find the recommended pressure in the owner's manual.
While you’re at it, be sure to check your tyre tread depth too. A quick and easy way to do this is to use a Malaysian 10-sen coin. New tyres usually have a thread depth of 8 to 9mm (half of the 10-sen coin). How do we measure it? Turn the coin so that the word “Bank Negara” is read upside down and insert it in between the tread. It should cover the whole length of the word if it’s new, but if all the alphabets of the words are visible, it means it’s time to change your tyres.
Alternatively, you can also measure it yourself. The world’s largest tyre company, Bridgestone, recommends that you change your tyres when the tread depth drops below 3mm for optimal driving performance. (How to Check Your Tyre Tread, n.d.)
Tip 2: Look Out For Warning Lights
It is important to be aware of the warning lights on your dashboard while driving. These lights indicate an issue with your vehicle that must be addressed immediately. Ignoring these warning lights could put you, your passengers and other road users at risk.
Some common warning lights to watch out for:
- The engine temperature light
- The oil pressure light
- The battery light
- The brake light
- The airbag light
- The engine check light
These warning lights are there for a reason. If you see any of these lights come on, pull over safely and call a tow truck or mechanic to have your car checked.
Tip 3: Keep Your Car Engine Clean And Smooth
Keeping your engine clean is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your safety while driving. While there is no evidence that cleaning your engine bay improves your driving performance, it can help your local mechanic do his or her job more efficiently when you bring your car in. It is also easier to detect any problems with your engine when the time comes. (Do Car Engines Need to Be Cleaned?, 2020)
You can use a damp microfiber cloth with some degreaser to wipe down any grease or oil around your engine bay. You should only clean your engine bay when the engine is cooled off. Be careful not to expose sensitive components such as wires and sensors to water or you could end up having to spend more money repairing them. The simplest way? Send your car to your local mechanic before any road trip.
Having said that, don’t forget to change your oil filter when it is due.
Tip 4: Clean The Car Battery Terminals
This one is a bit tricky if you have never done it before.
Most car batteries are now sealed. However, you do need to clean your car battery terminals to prevent corrosion. You can use items available from your house to clean them but please exercise extra caution to prevent any injuries to you or any damage to your car.
These are the household items you will need:
- White vinegar
- A pair of gloves
- A container
- Cleaning cloths
Put on your gloves and carefully remove the power cables, starting with the negative (black) cables. Then, place the terminals in a container and evenly pour vinegar over both terminals. Wait for an hour, then wipe the terminals with another clean cloth. You can reconnect the cables to your car battery after the terminals have been air-dried. (Car Care Instructions: How to Clean Car Battery Terminals with Vinegar, 2022)
Tip 5: Keep A Check On The Brake Fluid
Checking brake fluid is easy and doesn’t take up too much time.
To check your brake fluid level, find the brake fluid reservoir on your car and look at the level indicator. You can read the owner’s manual to help you locate it.
Most vehicles have a translucent reservoir with a line that says “MAX” or “Full”. The fluid reservoir should be filled to the “MAX” line. If it’s not, you’ll need to add brake fluid to it.
You should always use the type of brake fluid recommended for your vehicle to prevent any problems. If you’re still unsure about it, you can always take your car to your local mechanic. They’ll know what to do.
Bonus: Refer To Your Car User Manual
Driving is fun but maintaining a car can be challenging if you don’t have the right knowledge. Hence, it is important to leave it to the professionals if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. When in doubt, always refer to your car user manual. It will contain everything you need to know about your car.
The 13 Most Common Car Warning Lights You Need to Know. (n.d.). Leith Cars. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.leithcars.com/blogs/1421/lifestyle/13-common-car-warning-lights-need-knowd/
Do Car Engines Need to Be Cleaned? (2020, March 6). Fix Auto USA. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.fixautousa.com/blog/do-car-engines-need-to-be-cleaned/
Dryer, C. (2019, April 15). How to Clean Your Car's Engine – 10 Simple Steps for a Clean Engine. Car and Driver. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27104161/how-to-clean-engine/
The Effects Of Under-Over Inflated Tyres. (n.d.). Bridgestone MEA. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://bridgestone-mea.com/en/discover/the-effects-of-underinflated-and-overinflated-tyres
4 Easy Steps On How to Check Your Brake Fluid. (n.d.). Quaker State. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.quakerstate.com/en_us/car-care/checking-your-brake-fluid.html
Guide, S. (2022, June 2). How to Clean Car Battery Terminals with Vinegar Step by Step? Charmcitycirculator. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.charmcitycirculator.com/how-to-clean-car-battery-terminals-with-vinegar/
Have you ever wondered what Bibendum on your tyre wall is pointing at? (2019, October 30). WapCar. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.wapcar.my/news/have-you-ever-wondered-what-bibendum-on-your-tyre-wall-is-pointing-at-750
How to check your tyres tread depth. (n.d.). Uniroyal. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.uniroyal-tyres.com/car/tyre-guide/driving-tips/how-to-check-your-tyres-tread-depth
How to Check your Tyre Tread. (n.d.). Bridgestone. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.bridgestone.com.au/learn/maintenance/tyre-tread-check
Lim, J. (n.d.). 15 Car Dashboard Signs And Symbol (And What They Mean). SAYS. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://says.com/my/tech/car-dashboard-symbols
Muir, A. (n.d.). Checking the batteries. How a Car Works. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.howacarworks.com/electrical-systems/checking-the-batteries