Should I check the car before travelling?

Publicado el 30/07/2019
revisar el coche antes de viajar

It is necessary to check the car before travelling or going on holidays. Many people go away for the odd weekend break while others travel most weekends. However, most people opt for long trips with the arrival of the good weather. Whether it is a short or long trip, it is important to check the car and make sure everything is ready before you leave which will be one less thing to worry about.

5 things to check before setting off

In addition to loading the suitcases and filling the fuel tank, you must ensure that the wiper blades are in perfect condition along with the following:

Battery and ignition system

If, in the last few days or weeks you notice that the battery is not working properly because it has difficulty starting up or does not turn on, it is advisable to have its charging capacity checked by a mechanic. In the event it is not properly charged, it will be necessary to replace it with another one immediately.

Oil condition

Do you know when the last time you changed the oil was? Do you know after how many kilometres you should change it? How many kilometres will you drive on this trip?

It is best to check the car´s oil level before setting off on your journey. For this, the car must be parked horizontally, with the engine cold and off.  The minimum and maximum levels of the oil dipstick should be noted, which is striking in colour.  If the oil level is between these two levels, you can leave with no issues in this regard. If the level is below the minimum, you must fill it up to optimal levels to avoid running out of oil.

In the event that the level is higher than the maximum, in other words, if you have an excess of oil you should take it to be looked at by a mechanic. It is very important to lubricate a vehicle, especially in diesel cars with a particulate filter.  If you are in tailbacks, traffic jams or using slow gears, you will need it to be at full capacity.  The oil level should never be below the minimum or exceed the maximum.

Tyre pressure and depth

The tyres are one of the most important elements to check. Before setting off on a trip, you should check their pressure and depth.

How is tyre pressure measured? With the right tyre pressure, the car consumption can be reduced by up to 20%.  The correct tyre pressure varies depending on the vehicle model and manufacturer as well as the type of tyres. To know the appropriate index recommended by the manufacturer you should consult the instruction manual on the driver’s door or on the fuel tank cover.

In addition, it is important to check the depth of the tyre drawing, which serves to provide adhesion to the road surface. The higher the depth, the greater the adhesion.  For new tyres the optimum depth is approximately 8-9 mm.  Legally, you can drive on them until they reach a minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm, across 75% of the tyre’s width and all around its circumference.  It is recommended to change them once they reach 3 or 4 mm.

It is important to pay attention to the spare tyre.  If you need it, it is because you have punctured one of the other tyres, so if you forget to check the pressure or depth, and they are incorrect, it will be of no use to you.

Lighting and headlight adjustment

It is important not to forget to check the lighting system.  Remember that they not only help you to see, but also to be seen.  Before setting off on a journey, three elements of the headlights need to be checked: lighting, alignment and height.  To verify whether the lighting and alignment is correct, you should check that they produce light and that both headlights illuminate with the same intensity and at the same height.  The height at which the lights should illuminate is that at which the visibility of the driver is adequate and does not ´blind´ other drivers.

If the height is fine, but you notice that some of the lamps do not look like the others or are blown, the best thing would be to change them. If your car lights are LED or Xenon, the best option is to go to a specialized garage to have them replaced as soon as possible.

Car liquid levels

In addition to monitoring engine oil, there are other fluid levels that are important to keep track of.

To maintain the temperature of a car´s engine, the coolant level must be kept in optimum condition.  Especially in hybrid vehicles that have two (one for the electric system and one for the combustion engine); remember that in no case should they be mixed.  To check the vehicle, it must be horizontal and with the engine cold; the optimum level will be between the minimum and maximum levels marked.

The brake fluid must not be more than two years old and must always be above the minimum; the antifreeze, which is never to be checked hot and the gearbox oil, which is essential in the case of having an automatic gearbox.

Regarding the windshield wiper, it is more important than you might think, because if you cannot see correctly you may have a problem.  At this time of year there are many insects around, so if you can, add a specific soap.

In short, checking the car before setting off on a journey is necessary for your safety as well as to ensure that you are going to be able to enjoy a holiday with peace of mind.

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