Hear ye, hear ye, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that interstate travel is now allowed for all of those who are fully vaccinated, which means it's time to get your cars checked up so that you don't get stranded on your first interstate outing.
Seeing that our cars have pretty much not had any interstate action for a while, it's wise to give it a thorough check-up before heading out on that long journey to avoid any breakdowns.
If you have been keeping your car in good nick throughout the lockdown, it still won't hurt to give it a second look as you want it to be in its best possible condition, especially if it has to go through the expected congested roads in the upcoming weeks.
To help you stay on top of your car, we've listed some things you should be looking at.
1. Tyre Condition
It's not something people get in the habit of doing, but just doing a visual inspection of your tyres before you get in can save you a lot of trouble. The problem is that tyre wear can creep up on you, and you may go from having some tread to no tread at all - just taking a quick look at all four of your tyres before you get in can be done in under a minute.
Even if your tyres look fine visually, it's important to check that they have enough air in them. If your car and tyre have not moved for a long time, they tend to lose air, making them inefficient and unsafe.
2. Old Fuel
According to the Automobile Association (AA), it's likely that both the petrol and diesel in your car will be acceptable to use if it's been sitting in your car for no longer than six months. You should however exercise some caution if it's been left longer than that.
If your tank is full of old fuel (especially old diesel that has been sitting around for more than a year), have it drained by a garage or a professional. If you suspect your petrol or diesel is stale, the most economical way of trying to remedy it is to try topping it up with fresh fuel from a petrol station.
3. Windshield Wiper Fluid
Ever needed to wash off some dirt on the windscreen to find that your wiper fluid was all gone? It's one of the easier things to check with a car as wiper fluid reservoirs require no unscrewing or opening besides flipping the top off. Topping it up is also the easiest and least messy thing to do.
Dealing with dim lightbulbs is something you don't really notice until it's too late, so it pays to check them before rolling out - this is especially true for the hard to notice ones like those at the back. Signal lights are easy to spot if they die - they tend to flash unnaturally fast when you signal, but your front and rear lights can be harder to spot.
5. Oil Level
This isn't something you commonly find to be an issue with newer cars, but it may be wise to keep an eye on your oil level before heading out on older cars or cars with a lot of mileage. You'll need a rag or tissue paper to wipe the dipstick and measure the oil level accurately.
6. Radiator fluid
In a technical sense, you should never lose radiator fluid or coolant unless you have a serious problem with your engine because coolant flows in a closed system and only exits if you have a leak. Checking on it periodically is the best way to tell whether you have a serious problem on your hands, so have a few drives before you go interstate and check the radiator fluid levels.
Since we have been mostly driving in the Klang valley, where potholes and bumps live, it's best to get our wheel alignment checked as there is nothing worse than fighting the steering wheel to get the car moving in a straight line on the highway.
Thankfully, the most obvious way to tell your alignment has run is the fact that your car doesn't want to track in a straight line or aggressively pulls in one direction. Do take note that many roads are cambered for safety, so cars naturally pull to the left on highways - ideally you need a long, flat road to see which direction your car floats in.
8. Wiper Condition
Another one that creeps up on you is bad wiper blades. Blades are consumable items like any other - and when you need them the most is when you'll find they no longer work. Scatter a bit of water on your windscreen and run the wipers to see if they can smoothly remove the water - if not, it's time for a change.
9. Brake Condition
While brakes have an audible warning when your pads have reached the end of their lifespan, at times this is also when they have almost no stopping power left in them. A quick visual inspection should alert you to whether they're on the way out - although it could be a little difficult to see depending on the design of your wheels. If you're not sure what you are looking at, pay a professional to inspect them for you, they are brakes, after all, one of the critical components in a car that keeps you safe from harm.
10. Bring some water and food
While R&Rs on the highway will now be open, it's best to avoid them as much as you can as they will be brimming with people which may increase your chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus. It's best to bring some food and water with you on your trip and have a picnic where there are not many people around. This is more of preparation rather than a check, but could still prove crucial for your long-distance journey.
These are just some of the most basic things you should consider before going interstate, which may be the difference between a long-overdue good time or a torrid experience. These are also some of the things you can do without having to break out a set of tools or risk breaking something in the process.