Get on the road with good car care

Be prepared: Avoid upset kids by looking after your car before heading on a road trip and if worse comes to worse make sure you have a phone to call for help.
Be prepared: Avoid upset kids by looking after your car before heading on a road trip and if worse comes to worse make sure you have a phone to call for help.

Unless you are heading to the aptly named small town in the south-east of Western Australia, chances are you probably don't want to end up in the middle of Woop Woop (yes, it actually exists).

That's why it is important to look after your car before you head on a road trip to prevent yourself and your family from getting stranded, ruining what should be a great family-bonding holiday.

Check the engine

A long trip can put a lot of stress on your vehicle so checking the oil levels and when your next service is due is important.

If you are close to a service, it is worth doing it yourself or taking it in.

HSV Owners Club member, Jason Wright, said servicing at every interval following the manufacturer's service schedule is a must for car enthusiasts.

"Keep all fluids at the manufacturer required levels, including oil, coolant, brake and power steering fluid."

If you have had the same car battery for many years it is also worth getting it checked to see if it is working to the best of its ability.

This is also true of the alternator, you can have a new battery but with a dodgy alternator, you might find yourself stranded on the side of the road very quickly.

"Many places advertise a battery health check which would tell you if your battery is charging, roadside assistance members may even be able to have someone come out and do it for them," Jason said.

If the battery needs replacing before your trip there are certain auto stores who will even install your new battery for you. Unfortunately, if your alternator needs replacing it will have to be booked in, but while it is there they can give the rest of the vehicle a check over for you.

Check the tyres

Worn out tyres may not make the whole journey before blowing out so it's worth checking them before your trip.

Use a tyre gauge or ask your local tyre store to check your tread before setting out.

There's only the equivalent of only one handprint of tread connecting each of your tyres to the road so you may want to invest in some new ones if they are close to needing to be replaced.

Jason suggests rotating your tyres regularly to get even wear, prolonging the life of your tyres.

"All tyres have wear indicators on them in the tread, rotating is simply swapping them around front to back, left to right," he said.

As well as tread, the air pressure of your tyres is also important.

Too high can cause the tyres to blow out and too low can waste fuel.

To add the perfect amount of air to your tyres you can simply head to your local petrol station and fill to the correct amount (see the owner's manual or the placard inside the driver's door for information about your specific vehicle).

Check the exterior

Make sure all lights and indicators are working to help prevent accidents.

Ask another person to help you check your lights while you sit in the car and turn on all the lights and indicators and check that the brake lights work.

Jason suggests carrying around at least one spare bulb for your headlights, indicators and brake lights so you can easily change them while you are on your trip.

Jason also suggests giving your car a wash not only before your trip but also no less than fortnightly to prevent degrading and corrosion from standing dust and dirt.

"Polish regularly to maintain the paintwork from UV damage," he said.

"Use tinting and sunscreens to prevent UV damage to the interior, such as cracking and fading."

Cleaning car windows is especially important for good visibility and you can also take this opportunity to check the wiper blades and window washing liquid.

Lastly, pack for an emergency

As well as packing extra bulbs, there are a few other emergency items that are a good idea to have in your arsenal.

Pack a mobile phone and charger, a spare tyre and emergency tools such as a torch, spanner, tyre changing equipment and jumper leads.

Then you can simply pack, make sure you are familiar with the road rules wherever you are headed, stay safe and have a fun (and stress-free) road trip with your family.

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