Get ready for hol­i­day roads

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring -

With Easter weekend just around the cor­ner, it pays to check your car, and car­a­van, boat trailer and horse­box now.

Break­ing down can be a huge con­cern as more and more people spend less money on car main­te­nance, so think hard be­fore you try to make false economies.

If you think you can do ev­ery­thing yourself, don’t cut cor­ners and if you’re not sure about any­thing, con­sult a pro­fes­sional.

GEN­ERAL TIPS

Al­ways pre­pare your car be­fore a long jour­ney. Check tyres, brakes, wind­screen wash, lights, oil and wa­ter lev­els prior to trav­el­ling.

If tow­ing a car­a­van, en­sure you carry out suit­able checks for its road­wor­thi­ness too.

You may not have used the car­a­van, trailer, boat or horse box since last year, and it may have de­te­ri­o­rated since then.

Pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to its hitch, brakes, wheel bear­ing and light­ing.

Keep an eye on your fuel lev­els, es­pe­cially if driv­ing in the coun­try­side and you are un­sure where the next fill­ing sta­tion will be.

Try to never let the gauge fall be­low one quar­ter.

Make sure you have ad­e­quate car break­down cover that will get you to your des­ti­na­tion with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion in the un­for­tu­nate event of a break­down – and make sure you have your emer­gency call­out num­ber, if you have one, with you or in your

mo­bile phone mem­ory.

IN CASE OF A BREAK­DOWN:

Break­ing down on the side of the road can be ex­tremely haz­ardous. Con­sider your own safety first. If pos­si­ble, get your ve­hi­cle off the road and en­sure all pas­sen­gers are safe.

Park safely away from traf­fic and switch on your haz­ard lights.

Make sure you have a re­flec­tive jacket or tabard for yourself and your pas­sen­gers.

TOW­ING A TRAILER

In Bri­tain, four out of 10 of those re­cently sur­veyed by Nis­san who tow car­a­vans, trail­ers or boats, ad­mit­ted that they have never had train­ing on how to do so safely.

The chances are this is no dif­fer­ent in New Zealand.

The same sur­vey showed that an­other area of con­cern was driv­ers’ lack of knowl­edge of the tow­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of their ve­hi­cles, re­sult­ing in many mo­torists buy­ing and rent­ing car­a­vans their car didn’t have suf­fi­cient power and torque to tow.

More than a quar­ter of those sur­veyed ad­mit­ted they didn’t know that the speed limit was dif­fer­ent for cars and trail­ers than for cars on their own.

Our limit is 90kmh, new speed cam­eras that au­to­mat­i­cally al­ter their set­ting from cars, to trucks and cars and trail­ers mean that you can­not get away with pre­tend­ing to be a car on its own and driv­ing at just over 100kmh.

With more tow­ers than ever hit­ting the roads each hol­i­day sea­son, it is es­sen­tial driv­ers are up to speed with road safety.

Choos­ing the right tow­ing ve­hi­cle is fun­da­men­tal to an en­joy­able and safe tow­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The most com­mon er­ror made by tow­ers is in hitch­ing over­bear­ing loads.

This is both il­le­gal and dan­ger­ous.

Good torque de­liv­ery ben­e­fits driv­ers by of­fer­ing max­i­mum pulling power at low en­gine speeds and re­quir­ing fewer gear shifts.

Know your tow­ing limit as well as the max­i­mum braked and un­braked tow­ing weights. This can be found in your ve­hi­cle hand­book.

Know your own lim­its, too. You’ll get tired more quickly driv­ing with a trailer and you’ll need to stop more of­ten.

When you do, just pass your hand close to the car­a­van or trailer wheels to check for un­nat­u­ral heat buildup.

It could be bind­ing to over­worked brakes, or dam­age to a wheel bear­ing.

On the road, al­low more time and space for ac­cel­er­at­ing and brak­ing, given the ex­tra weight.

When ap­proach­ing an in­cline se­lect a lower gear in good time. Go­ing up­hill this pro­vides ex­tra urge.

Go­ing down it re­duces the strain on your ve­hi­cle’s brakes.

Get it checked: Easter Weekend is just around the cor­ner so make sure your car is ready for a long trip to avoid a sit­u­a­tion like this.

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