Road trip: Those vehicle checks

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 LONG TRIP COMING? CHANGE YOUR CAR'S OIL: You can do it yourself at home - this guy is checking the oil level in the engine - and redecorate the brick driveway black - sensible thing is to get your local garage to do it. ~ Shutterstock
Planning a road trip? Before you do so, check your car to make sure that it's in good condition and that everything in an on it is running smooth (except for the tyres). Here's how:

Before you depart on any journey check your vehicle’s oil, coolant and brake fluid levels. Do it while the car is cool.
: pull out the metal stick with the curved top from the side of the engine, wipe off the oil with a couple of tissues, replace stick all the way in, remove again and make sure the oil level is close to the letter F.
: take off the COOL radiator cap/coolant bottle cap and make sure there is clean water inside - top up with tap water.
Brake fluid:
There'll be one (perhaps two) small plastic bottles clamped to the engine bay fire wall (the metal between you and the engine). Don't do anything except look to see that the fluid in them is somewhere close to full.

Your tyre pressure should be printed in the vehicle manual or on the driver's door sill. The maximum pressure is moulded on the tyre. Now go to the garage and get the pump jockey to check they're OK with the air-line. Spare wheel too, please.

Good idea. Get your local garage to do it. It's easy enough, but five litres of dirty oil on your nice brick driveway can take some removing.

The legal minimum tyre-tread depth in South Africa is 1mm across the face of the tyre. Which is crap. Don't drive on anything less than double that. You could die. Check the tyre sidewals (the vertical-ish bits) for cuts or other damage. Check the tyre pressures (see above, use pump jockey).

Before embarking on a long journey check your vehicle's air filter. It's usually a flat round pan with a lid on top of the engine. Use a suitable screwdriver to remove the screw in the middle of the lid, take out the paper thing inside. If it looks reasonably clean and unclogged, put it back. If it's filthy get a new one from you local garage or parts show, pop it in, replace lid and screw. You could even save some fuel...

Check that all lights and signals are working. Turn on the ignition, work the indicator stalk, get the kids to tell you what's flashing - or not flashing. Do the same with the brake lights. If one isn't working, use a small star screwdriver to remove the plastic cover, get a new bulb from you local garage, replace the old one.

Carrying emergency stuff is a good idea. Even if you don't need it, a stranger might. Carry in an old satchel or canvas sack an up-to-date map, spare cellphone, some simple spanners and a straight and star screwdriver. A torch is a good idea, especially if it can flash red, a small fire extinguisher might be handy - again, if not for you then for some other person. Get a modest medical kit from the pharmacy and keep it by the spare wheel.