It’s that time of year again, the Chinese New Year holidays! That means the annual gathering of friends and relatives as we feast on delicious festive cookies and hand out ‘ang pows’. But wait a minute, have you equipped yourself and your car properly for the trip?
Making sure you are prepared for that long drive ahead could be the difference between spending the day enjoying some delicious ‘kuih kapit’ and spending it on the side of the road as you await for some assistance. So, before you set out on that balik kampung trip, why not spend a few minutes to go through our check-list and have a pleasant journey ahead.
Have you properly serviced your vehicle?
Making sure the car you’re driving is capable of making the journey back is important. So get that check-up or quick service/ multi-point check at your car maker’s authorised service centres – if you time it right, many car companies will be giving them out for FREE even.
There are also basic inspections that you can undertake yourself at home, such as:
Tyres – Ensure they are not worn and torn. Look out for cracks and use a 20 sen coin to measure thread depth. Remember the old trick of: If you can see the word ‘sen on the coin, they’re probably worn. Also, make sure they are properly inflated. You can refer to the proper inflation figures when you open the driver’s side door where a notice is pasted on.
Engine oil – When you open your hood, check the dip stick to make sure your engine oil level is well within the suited range. A properly lubricated engine will save your from a hefty repair bill caused by your extended drive home and back.
Radiator fluid – Only do this when the engine is cold. Open the radiator and check that the coolant level is appropriate. Next, check the plastic coolant reservoir beside it and make sure that is within the indicated level markings too. Also, use a proper coolant-to-water ratio mixture. Plain water alone isn’t a very good coolant as it evaporates quickly.
Headlights and taillights – In our country where sudden rainfall is expected, your headlights light the way ahead whereas your taillights indicate to the driver behind you of your location. So make sure they’re in full working condition.
Brakes – Very important for stopping, make sure that the brake pads aren’t worn out and if they are, have them replaced. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where your brakes don’t stop you well enough.
Planning The Route Beforehand
We live in the age of smartphones where satellite navigation is at our fingertips, but you should also make a point to do a little homework in planning for a route that is the quickest and safest. Apps such as Google Maps and Waze have their limits, so unless you’ve invested in a navigation system that isn’t dependant on mobile data connnectivity constantly, plan ahead following the travel time advisory provided by PLUS.
As a cheat sheet for Android users, there is an offline option in the form of Nokia’s HERE app, which allows you download offline maps into your smartphone after registering for an account.
Unwanted incidents can happen anywhere and at any time. It pays to have a few these basic items in your vehicle to tackle such situations:
Jumpstart cables – This may have happened to you before. In any case, a pair of jumper cables will come in handy when asking others to help give your car a little electrical boost to get going.
Flashlight – Your phone might come with one but a dedicated one is easier to manage and less expensive to replace if it slips out of your hand while you’re using it, right?
Screwdriver – Get a multi-head one for that one-size-fits-all situation. Phillips head, flat head? Be prepared for any with the proper screwdriver.
Adjustable Wrench – To manage nuts and bolts of various sizes, it’s best to have on board an adjustable wrench that can handle them all.
First-Aid Kit – Some cars come equipped with them, where inside, you’ll find all kinds of band aids and things. If your car hasn’t got one, get one. Or compile your own list of items inside an air-tight container. If you already have one, remember to check if it’s needs restocking.
Your car needs petrol (or diesel) to get a move on, but the driver behind the wheel of it needs their own fuel as well. Pack a few bottles of water in your car to keep your hydration levels up and a few snacks to keep your energy up. If your journey is for longer than two hours and you don’t have a co-driver, take a break or a nap at a R&R before continuing on your journey.
Always plan to have a co-driver with you
Taking on a long journey alone can be quite boring, let alone tiring, when you do it alone. Always plan your trips to include a co-driver with your at all times. Bring your friends or family. And even if they can’t drive, the company will do your spirits a world of good.
Equip yourself with the right tech
Touch n’ Go – Skip the cash lane with the electronic toll payment option. Just make sure that it has enough credit in it. Go further by not even needing to wind down your windows with a Smart Tag instead. Just make sure that the batteries still work in it.
Bluetooth – Your car may or may not come with this form of connectivity for your mobile phone but if it doesn’t, pick one up at your local tech shop. While you’re there, avoid fumbling to reach for your phone while driving by purchasing a windscreen mount for your phone as well. It can double as a navigation display unit. Bascially, holding onto your smartphone..