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Posted on 19th January 2016 – Driving


Before you lock up your house to go on holiday, you always go around and check that the windows and doors are all bolted, all the gas and electrics are off, and that the cat’s being looked after by a friendly neighbour – but how much attention do you pay to your car?

If you’re off on a roadtrip – and at this time of year, tens of thousands of Kiwis are – it’s absolutely vital to make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition. And we don’t just mean you’ve got the right playlist and snacks for your journey – no, you’ll need to get under the bonnet for some of these checks!

If you’ve just imported your vehicle from Australia, Europe, Asia or the United States then it may have been used in a city or for only short distances – before you embark on a New Zealand road adventure, here’s a 13-point checklist to show you are ready for the

1. Check all the vehicle’s fluids from the windscreen washer reservoir to the coolant, transmission, brake and power steering fluids – and, of course, fuel and oil levels.

2. Check all the belts, fans, and hoses under the bonnet for wear and tear, corrosion, leaks and cracks.

3. Check your tyres for wear and bald spots (the legal tread depth limit in New Zealand is 1.5mm but anything below significantly reduces your tyre’s ability to gip the road in wet weather). And of course check for any bulges, cracks or objects embedded in the rubber which could lead to a loss of pressure.

4. Check your tyre pressures against the manufacturer’s guidelines.

5. Check your spare tyre is fully inflated and fit for purpose – and that you know where your jack and any other implements needed to change a tyre are kept.

6. Check you’ve got a full complement of emergency gear such as jump leads and, ideally, a hazard sign in case of a breakdown.

7. Check your windscreen wipers are flush to the glass and are not worn or cause smears. It’s best to keep a spare blade in the vehicle – especially for longer journeys.

8. Check all your electrics such as headlights, reversing lights, indicators, brake lights, dashboard and inside lights. It’s a good idea to keep spare set of fuses in the car.

9. Check your battery terminals for dirt or corrosion and that it’s fully charged and recharging properly.

10. Clean your air filter and radiator grill from all dirt, insects etc.

11. Pack a first aid kit – hayfever can be an issue for drivers during summer and sneezing at high speed can be very dangerous but be careful of medication which makes you drowsy.

12. Pack rechargers and mobile phones – they can be very useful as maps – but if you are travelling somewhere where you won’t get reception remember to pack a map or atlas as well.

13. On longer journeys it’s important for the driver to stop at least 20 minutes every couple of hours to avoid fatigue. Packing music, food, books and entertainment can help too.

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