Sometimes we are all so rearing to go, that we forget the essentials. We here at NamAuto would like to remind you, that before you hit the pedal to the metal, to check up on the following in your car.
You should check your tyres’ pressures at least once a month while driving in town, before each trip, and each morning you drive during a trip. Ideally, tyre pressure should be measured when tyres are cold, meaning before doing any driving. Otherwise, your tyres may have heated up, increasing the air pressure inside them by several bars. This is normal and as a rule never reduce the air pressure from a hot tyre, since this could result in under-inflation. Under-inflation could lead to tyre damage and also significantly lower the life span of the tyre. By the way, did you know under-inflation can also cause you to use more fuel during your trip? This is due to rolling resistance which requires more output from your vehicle.
On the other hand, over-inflation can be just as damaging - your tyre's life span will also be at risk, as well as an increased risk of damaging your tyres when hitting a pothole or a rock in the road. Needless to say you will also be in for a very bumpy ride if your tyres are over-inflated on our Namibian gravel roads.
To avoid inflation issues, consider the recommended tyre pressure as per your car's manual booklet. Remember to keep the weight of your luggage in mind.
Usually when you pull in at a fuel station, the petrol attendant will rattle off 'bande, olie en water sir?' while getting the pump ready. And usually you will say no, as yo are probably in a hurry. But when last did you check on it? Your car heats up as you drive; the longer, the hotter it gets. Thus your engine needs a coolant to ensure it doesn't overheat. While you are busy with the water, you can also fill up your windscreen wiper fluid tank so you can keep your screen clean on the road.
When checking the oil, make sure you have an old rag or some tissue paper with you to clean off that first bit of oil before taking the measurements. Normally your car's oil is yellow-brown; if it black, it might be time to change the oil and the filter. The oil in your car make sure that everything runs smoothly, so to ensure smooth sailing, make sure everything is a-okay.
As per the Namibian law, it is advisable to switch on your headlights when driving on our national roads. This ensures easier visibility, even during daytime. So quickly going through all of lights at home will be beneficial to your safety on the road. Remember to check that both headlights, taillights and the fog lights are burning properly. It helps to have someone to assist when checking your indicator and brake lights - for those that do not know, an indicator light usually indicates to other motorists that you plan on making a turn or overtaking another car!
Replacing a light bulb is easy and you can do it yourself; just get a bulb from Greg's Motor Spares. You can even ask them for assistance if you are still unsure!
Batteries have limited lives of their own (usually 1 to 6 years), and it helps if we make sure that all is well from time to time. A car battery also uses water, however tap water is not used for this purpose. Distilled water, or battery water, can be bought from most grocery shops. Alternatively, you can stop at a fuel station and ask if they have some to top you up, if necessary. If batteries run out of water, the your car might not start due to sulfation in the battery, which basically means there is an interruption in the current.
It will also be beneficial to check the age of your battery; the average recommendation for replacing a battery is 3 years. Should you however decide to stick it out for one last trip with your old battery, make sure the poles are corrosion free, so that there is a good flow of electricity from the battery.
Should you have done the above, it is also good to have a backup plan for the long road.
Make sure you have:
- a spare tyre, or two if your vehicle has the space
- a spanner that fits your bolts, as well as a working jack that supports your car's weight
- a tyre repair kit and a can of tyre sealant
- an emergency warning triangle which is easily visible
- extra water, which is also drinkable
- a first aid kit
- your car's manual booklet (yes, it is important!)
It is also always important to ensure that you let reliable people know where you are off to, as there are areas in our country which does not have cell phone signals. Scheduling where you will be and at what time, will make it easy for your loved one to know of and when to take action.