Plan­ning a Road Trip? Make Sure Your Car’s in Good Shape

Get­ting a thor­ough check-up of car done ahead of a long jour­ney is a must, says Prashant Ma­hesh

The Economic Times - - Markets & Finance -

Many fam­i­lies are plan­ning road trips dur­ing sum­mer va­ca­tions. Ac­cord­ing to tour oper­a­tors, fam­i­lies in Delhi are driv­ing down to Jammu, Udaipur, and Leh, while Mum­bai-based ones are driv­ing to Goa, Ban­ga­lore and Coorg, among oth­ers. Some of them may be guilty of last minute plan­ning, but sev­eral of them are forced to opt for cars due to the peren­nial wait­listed tick­ets for train travel and ex­pen­sive flight tick­ets.

For ex­am­ple, a fam­ily of four in Mum­bai will have to shell out .` 36,000 for a re­turn ticket to Goa for the next week. Sim­i­larly, a four-mem­ber fam­ily in Delhi will have to pay .` 40,000 for a re­turn ticket to Udaipur. In com­par­i­son, these fam­i­lies just have to spend around .` 5,000-8,000 for their road trip, in­clud­ing the toll charges. A road trip can be a great fun if you en­joy driv­ing, but ex­perts want you to en­sure the fit­ness of your car to make it a mem­o­rable trip.

Run Through a Ba­sic Check

“Take your car to a ser­vice sta­tion for a ba­sic check-up. The ser­vice sta­tion will run a ba­sic check on tyres, lights, look for hose cracks or bro­ken belts and top up all the oils such as en­gine oil, brake cool and coolant, ” says Ku­nal Khat­tar, vi­cepres­i­dent, Car­na­tion Auto.

Take your car to the ser­vice sta­tion at least three days be­fore the trip as it will give the cen­tre enough time to fix the prob­lems de­tected while ex- amin­ing the car. You should re­quest for a gen­eral check, which could look at things like lights, brakes, ac­cel­er­a­tor, top­ping up en­gine oil, or coolant to the op­ti­mal lev­els. The cen­tre will check for any leak­ages and dam­ages to be re­paired. All lights and bulbs must be ex­am­ined and checked to en­sure they are work­ing fine.

This is im­por­tant as long trips may en­tail driv­ing in the night and on high­ways. “Im­proper lights

Ex­perts also ad­vise that va­ca­tion­ers must carry all documents and use smart­phones for a bet­ter trip

may im­pact the vis­i­bil­ity of the driver,” says Ra­jesh Sood, MD and CEO, ecardlr.com.

Check Your Tyres

“Tyre tread and its depth should be in­spected prop­erly es­pe­cially if you are go­ing to drive in a hilly ter­rain,” says Khat­tar. Driv­ing with a low tread depth in­creases the po­ten­tial for tyre fail­ure. “En­sure that all your tyres, in­clud­ing the spare one, is in­flated as per the rec­om­mended pres­sure, men­tioned in the man­u­fac­tur­ers man­ual,” says Ban­wari Lal Sharma, VP (mar­ket­ing), car­wale.com. When the ve­hi­cle is speed­ing on long dis­tances, high speed could re­sult in heat­ing and au­to­matic in- fla­tion of tyres, which could lead to tyre burst at times. So, ex­perts rec­om­mend re­duced tyre pres­sure by two PSI on high-speed roads such as the Mum­bai-Pune ex­press­way. You should also en­sure that the ve­hi­cle body jack is avail­able and is in a us­able con­di­tion. The wheel span­ner should be in its place and se­cured like the jack and han­dle.

A Smart­phone is Handy

Ex­perts ask va­ca­tion­ers to carry their documents and smart­phones for a smooth trip. “Have 3G ac­ti­vated in your mo­bile phone. You could use var­i­ous apps to find the best pos­si­ble route, to search for restaurants, petrol pumps on the way to fuel up while trav­el­ling,” says Sharma. Ex­perts rec­om­mend us­ing smart­phones with 3G data plans and roam­ing ac­ti­vated for longer jour­neys. “Google apps give you in­for­ma­tion on the short­est route, the kind of traf­fic you may face and will alert you of any ac­ci­dent that would have oc­curred en­route,” says Khat­tar. More­over, you could use var­i­ous mo­bile apps which help you with the best ho­tels, or places to go around in your des­ti­na­tion. For ex­am­ple, the Zo­mato app will help you dis­cover the best restaurants to eat in the area you are driv­ing around. Lastly, all driv­ers must to carry the orig­i­nal li­cence. Also, do not for­get to carry pho­to­copies of the RC book, PUC and the car in­sur­ance.

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