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Is your car road-fit for December? 4 things to check before your next road trip

2018-12-12 10:00
Mechanic repairing an engine

Image: iStock

December is upon us and it’s that time of year again when hundreds of thousands of South Africans will hit the roads to get back home or head out to their favourite holiday destinations.

While it’s a time of great festivity, it’s tragically also a period when hundreds of lives are lost. The road death toll over the 2017 festive season alone topped 1527 fatalities.

Key aspects

No doubt, authorities will once again drum home the message about dangers around drinking and driving, as well as speeding. And while these are very serious risks, there are further critical measures that drivers must be aware of before embarking on their trips.

READ: Festive season driving tips: 'Be safe and adjust your attitude on the road'

During this time, South Africans often overlook key aspects of their cars that are critical to safe driving, from windscreens to elements in contact with the road - such as suspension, steering and brakes.

Below is some advice from us at Autoboys about what key features you need to be aware of to ensure a safer trip this festive season. 

1. Check your windscreen

Arrive Alive and many safety organises recognise that a car’s windscreen is a critical component in vehicle safety. During the year, small stones or cracks may have occurred along the surface of your windscreen.

windscreen repair

                                                                             Image: iStock

A cracked windscreen is not only a hindrance to your ability to see what’s going on around you, but it can also become a danger to you during front-end collisions or rollovers. This is because a windshield forms part of the structure that holds your car together.

In addition, your windscreen is critical to providing support to your airbag. So, make sure that your windscreen is in top shape.

2. Suspension

The suspension on a vehicle relates to shock absorbers, and when these are worn, your tyres can start bouncing along the road while driving.

Shock absorbers

                                                                  Image: iStock

When a wheel is bouncing, there's no positive contact to the road surface. As a result, your braking and stability are affected, especially in wet weather conditions and during emergency stops.

The risk here is that your vehicle may go into an uncontrollable slide. 

3. Control arms, lateral links

Any issues with your car’s control arms or lateral links will mean that you don’t have adequate control.

Suspension linkages

                                                                                  Image: iStock

This can be especially dangerous when it comes to harsh braking in wet conditions or where there is lots of sand or pebbles. It’s critical to ensure that these are in full working condition.

4. Brake and tyres

Lastly, it’s imperative that your car is able to stay on the road surface with tyres that are in good condition and a fully functioning braking system.

Brake disc and pad

                                                                             Image: iStock

When it comes to tyres, check that your tread is the right depth - the law states this needs to be at least 1.6mm. Also be sure to check for any radial cracks as these could cause blowouts while driving.

Further to this, make sure you have a fully functioning braking system that includes sufficient brake pad thickness, and brake discs that are not adversely worn. This latter issue, in particular, can cause brake fade which is when the brakes overheat so much that they become ineffective.


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