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20 Sep, 2021

So you’re a lady and you’re planning a road trip – no males allowed… But you need to know if your car is in good order for this trip. So where do you start?

If your car is relatively new and has a maintenance or service plan, then you should not have much to worry about. But what if your vehicle is older and has run around the block a few times…  Here is a checklist for you to consider. Everyone won’t find it easy to check these things beforehand, so ask a knowledgeable male (or female…) counterpart or buddy to give you a hand. You should be able to work through this checklist in less than one hour. Let’s go:

  1. Make sure the car does not need a service or oil change.
  2. Check your tyres.
  3. Check your spare wheel and jack.
  4. Does the car brake properly without making excessive noise?
  5. See that the brake fluid level and steering fluid (if applicable) reservoir level are correct.
  6. Make sure your car does not leak any fluids – water, oil, gearbox fluid.
  7. Ensure the coolant level is correct.
  8. If your car has an automatic gearbox – check that the gearbox fluid level is correct.
  9. Check your window wipers.
  10.  Top-up your window washer fluid.
  11.  Ensure that your headlights, taillights and turn signals are in proper working order.
  12.  Check that the hooter works properly.
  13.  Test out the air-conditioner and heater if you think you’ll need those on your trip. Who doesn’t?
  14.  Do all the windows wind up and down? (Also check your sunroof, if any).
  15.  Do the doors lock properly? Also check the child locks if you think you’ll be using those.
  16.  Does your engine start on the first try? If not, it could mean you need to get a new battery for your car.

We will be touching on each of these points over the next few weeks. To start, let’s talk about the first point:

Make sure the car does not need a service or oil change.

Cars need to be serviced or have their oil changed at certain intervals. (A service is a little more elaborate than just an oil change). These intervals differ from car-to-car, manufacturer-to-manufacturer, diesel or petrol engine, etc. You can see the interval in the owner’s manual or service book of your car. Most cars these days have an electronic service indicator which will tell you for how long or far you can still drive before the car needs service or requires an oil change.

Plan wisely. If your service indicator shows that you have 2500km before the car is due for a service, then obviously you cannot make a round trip to Cape Town (+/- 2900km there and back with added kilometres of driving in and around Cape Town) before the service. 

In this situation you have two options. You can have your car serviced before your road trip, or you can make a booking at a dealership or workshop in Cape Town. If you go for the second option, you may end up without a car for a day during your stay in Cape Town. However, many car dealerships have a courtesy car for out-of-town clients that you can use for a day while your car is being serviced. Inquire about this when you make your service booking.

If you have your car serviced in your hometown before your trip, mention to the mechanic or service advisor that you are planning to take a road trip. Many service centres have a 10-point check, which they do (often free of charge) to ensure that nothing on your car needs TLC before the trip.

We’ll continue next time with some of the other points on the list.

Safe driving!

Conrad January




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