Motoring Tips for Long Journeys

Motoring Tips for Long Journeys image

Text: Gautam Dadlani / Photos: Brent Co | posted March 15, 2001 13:32

Conditioning your vehicle and making sure you are complete with your gear is the first step for a successful trip

There are a lot of nice places to see outside of Manila, past the boundaries of the city.

Apparently, complementing this, there is a growing trend for people to drive out of town and visit other places and provinces, since the road network has been improving. (even though it's at a turtle-like pace) People seem to want to explore beyond their backyards.

It is therefore essential that the traveler should arrive without encountering problems and hassles on the way. Conditioning your vehicle and making sure you are complete with your gear is the first step for a successful trip, whether the purpose is business or pleasure.

The vehicle should be in good condition as far as the engine goes. The oil should be clean, and at the right level, the air filter should also be either cleaned or replaced, and the spark plugs (gas engine vehicles) are in good condition. All the belts should be tight, and make sure to look for cracks or uneven wear on the rubber areas of belts. The coolant and brake fluid should be checked. Topping up is usually enough to do the job, but if the fluids are discolored, a flushing and full check may be needed. The battery should also be in good condition, and older cars may need a distilled water top up. Washer fluid should also be full during long trips. (Power steering fluid should be taken care of by the casa) Pay special attention to things like idling, rough running, power delivery and smoke emission. These are all indications for further and larger problems that can wait in the engine bay and strike at a bad time and totally ruin an otherwise good journey.

Look at the outside of the car. Does anything seem damaged or defective? Does anything look like its going to break or crack? Keep your eyes open out for this. Test the lights, from the main beams to the high beam, from the brake lights to the signal lights, etc. Make sure all the lights and other electrical systems like the locks, windows, aircon, etc. are all functioning optimally. The tires should be checked properly, and be inflated with the correct air pressure. For highway driving the air pressure should be slightly lower than otherwise for a smoother ride on the highway, and heavier steering feel because of more ground contact. If the tires have lumps on the side, or appear oblong, then you know that trouble is coming. Replace them. In one seminar I attended recently on "tipid driving," the instructor said to increase the air pressure to make the tire slightly donut like, emphasizing that it would reduce rolling resistance and better fuel consumption. NEVER do this, as it alters the handling, braking and steering of the car in a detrimental way, makes braking far less safer, and makes the ride very bumpy and unsettled. After you have done all of this, take the car for a good spin and test everything from the brakes, steering and engine, to the aircon and stereo.

Bring spare fuses with you at all times, together with the fuse clip standard with most cars today. Bringing some OEM (original equipt./size) bulbs would not do any harm, and a canister of motor oil, coolant and brake fluid (the same ones used in the vehicle) would be a great thing to bring around. Put it in a bag and place it in your trunk. Make sure all the spare parts needed are complete. You should have everything needed to change a spare tire, (which should also be intact and checked) and also have jumper cables, an EWD and a small flashing battery operated strobe light or warning light. Also make sure you bring a few towels or rags, as the uses for these are unlimited. Flash light(s) and drinking water are essential, so don't forget these.

Now you should be on your way to a very enjoyable trip. Whether it be as close as Laguna or as far as La Union, a day trip or a week-long haul, with family or friends, drive carefully and be observant of your vehicle - it speaks a lot if you look and listen carefully!