Get your wheels holiday-ready
With Labour Day just around the corner and the weather getting warmer, it’s a good time to start thinking about getting your vehicle ready for the holidays.
A few checks can make the trip much smoother and, if you’re towing a trailer, boat or caravan, there are few tricks to keeping on the straight and narrow.
Before you hit the road
Keep your family safe and make the long-haul easier with a few easy checks and preparations. Remember, if you’re not sure, your local garage will always be able to help or advise.
- Check fluid levels: this includes your engine and automatic transmission oils, brake fluid, water in your radiator and expansion tank and windscreen wash.
- Antifreeze or coolant: this is just as important in summer as it is in winter – coolant helps keep the engine from over heating on long road trips in high temperatures.
- Tyres: check your tyre pressure and thread depth, although 1.5mm is the legal limit, you really want at least 3mm of tread around the full width and circumference of the tyre during winter. Don’t forget to check the spare!
- Battery: it’s worth checking your battery is ready to go - you can ask your local supplier to help you check.
On the road
It’s likely to be busy over long weekends or popular holiday periods, so always drive to the conditions, keep your speed down and be patient out there. If you’re packing up the family for a trip away, you might be towing a trailer, boat or caravan and there are a few things to remember.
- Check your trailer or caravan before you pull away – it’s likely to have been sitting for a while so check tyre pressure or spin trailer wheels to check for any unusual noises.
- Also remember to check your trailer or caravan warrant of fitness and registration – it’s been sitting there for a while so make sure you’re sorted.
- When you’re packing the trailer or caravan, keep heavy items to the front. Too much weight at the back can increase side-to-side movement or wobbling, especially at higher speeds.
- If you’re towing a caravan, think about purchasing a stabiliser bar. You can install it yourself between the tow bar and caravan draw bar and it will help give you a steady ride.
- Remember that when towing, the top legal speed is 90 km/h (in a 100 km/h zone). You’ll also need more space between you and other vehicles, so you have more time to stop when you need to.
- When turning, remember to go slower than usual and swing wider; the extra weight is likely to push your vehicle forward further and you want to avoid braking suddenly as this can cause you to jack-knife.
It’s a great Kiwi tradition to pack up the family and get away from it all when the weather’s good. By remembering a few simple tips you can make sure you remain safe and enjoy your holiday.