Are you preparing for a long road trip? Perhaps going on vacation or for some important business in a city or town some distance away from where you reside?
One thing you will need to do to ensure that you have a safe and hopefully, enjoyable trip, is make sure your car is in proper condition for a long drive.
This really, is basic common sense but you might be surprised to discover just how many drivers do not take the necessary precautions before they hit the road on a long journey.
Besides, Nigerian roads are unfortunately very harsh on cars and their components, and you will need to be extra careful.
If you’re already an experienced driver, you will probably be familiar with a few of these steps; still, it cannot hurt to refresh your memory and you just might learn something new.
Here are the seven steps you should take to get prepared for a long road trip.
1. Check your tires thoroughly
First things first, you will need to check your car tires to make sure they are road worthy especially given the fact that you will be travelling for a long distance.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to take their tires for granted and this has led to a remarkable number of accidents which could easily have been prevented.
To make absolutely sure that you do not add to this distressing statistic, simply give your tires a thorough examination before you hit the road.
Specifically, you will need to examine your tires for two main things: air pressure and sufficient tread. Many a roadside vulcanizer would happily assure you that they have pumped your tire to the correct pressure but you better not take any chances.
Most cars have information on the recommended air pressure displayed somewhere on the inside of the driver’s door and you should use this information to guide you.
Anything above or below should send the alarm bells ringing. In particular, not that as most parts of Nigeria are relatively hot, the rubber in your tires will tend to expand after a while, and if they have been over pumped, this could cause them to burst.
2. Check your warning lights
Given the rate at which motor accidents occur due to faulty brakes and other such essential components, a novice might be forgiven for assuming that cars do not come with inbuilt warning systems that let you know when things are going wrong. However, they do. They are called warning lights.
The average Nigerian driver hardly pays attention to the warning lights on their dashboard, but all those bright lights exist for a reason, and it has little to do with making your dashboard look pretty.
They are there to give you warning when things are going wrong with your car and you certainly don’t want things going wrong when you are out in the middle of nowhere.
So if you’re one of those people who habitually ignores their nonfunctional indication lights, you better get yours fixed before you leave town.
3. Check your fluids
There are a number of important fluids you will need to check before you embark on any long distance road trip.
Your engine oil, water, coolant, brake fluid, steering fluid, are all extremely important items that are integral to the functioning of your car.
Depending on the make and age of your car is, and when it was last serviced, you may not need to worry so much about these; still, to be on the safe side, give them an once-over, while you’re looking over the rest of the car.
4. Check lights
Depending on how far you intend to travel, there will be a decent chance that you might have to do some night driving.
Don’t forget that Nigerian roads can be quite unpredictable at times. You’d better prepare yourself for the possibility of having to do some night driving by making sure that your lights are fully functional and as bright as they should be.
Even if your lights seem to be working fine, you might want to consider changing the bulbs if the current ones are not as bright as they could be.
5. Spare tire and emergency kit
Flat tires are a thing every experienced Nigerian driver knows to expect. The roads are simply too rough and you probably won’t be able to tell when your tires will have had enough of the potholes and give way.
Of course, if you have paid any attention to point one, you will have minimized the chances of your tires getting damaged.
Still, you will want to make absolutely sure that you have a good spare tire (or two) so that your journey may proceed unhindered.
You will also need a good emergency kit. Do you really want to have to rely on a rusty old jack and some randomly sized spanners when you’re out in the middle of nowhere?
Probably not. An investment in a decent emergency kit might cost some money but you will sure appreciate having one if the need arises.
6. First aid
No one really likes to think of the fact that they could be the next accident victim struggling for the life out on the highway, far removed from medical attention. This however is the grim reality.
Proper first aid has saved a lot of lives and you should feel just a little bit safer, knowing that you have one in your car. Of course you probably should get some training to go along with the kit.
Lastly, don’t forget to pack some of your favorite food. This one really has very little to do with your car itself but hey what good is it if the car is in good condition but the driver is not?
You may not be able to tell what series of events might await you out on the open road and you might find it a bit annoying having nothing to eat while you’re stuck in traffic on the express way.
If you’re tempted to dismiss this as being an improbable scenario, we’d like you to remember that in Nigeria, improbable things happen every day.
For a more comprehensive examination of your car before a major road trip, your best bet is to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic workshop, for proper servicing. Also, remember to be on the lookout for typical danger signs such as leaking fluids, excessive exhaust smoke or strange noises.
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