A smooth ride this Raya

Hakim Hayat

In the days leading up to the end of Ramadhan and the beginning of Syawal where Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, people across the country are seen rushing home to spend more time with their families.

With the celebration a few days away, large crowds are on the roads for last minute shopping, leading to massive traffic jams.

It is during this time that accidents are more likely to occur, because there are not just more people on the roads, but also more negligence when it comes to car maintenance.

For those intending to drive home or balik kampong, according to Mahmoud Shiddieqy bin Abdullah of Primatech Motorsports, following a simple checklist to ensure your car is at its optimal condition for your journey is essential.

TYRES

First and foremost, to check the tyre pressure on all tyres. This includes the spare tyre, which is often overlooked.

Check what the air pressure should be on the tyres based on the readings given in the car manual or on the side panel of the driver seat door. Be sure not to fill it up with too much air, as it will not have its full grip should it rain, which could lead to hydroplating.

On the other hand, low tyre pressure allows the tyres to grip the road well, but causes more strain on the engine and damages the tyres due to the weight of the car pushing down on the rim and tyres.

The best time to fill the tyres is during cool weather, as heat can cause tyres to be more inflated.

ENGINE OIL

It is important to check the oil level of the car. Upon opening the bonnet, there is a ring near the engine compartment called a dipstick. Pull out the long rod and wipe it clean. Then dip the stick back, pull it back out and two inches of the tip should be covered in oil.

The level of the oil should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum markers. If it is below the minimum, replenish it with oil from the previous car service. If unsure of what to do, it is best to get a friend or a mechanic to help.

CAR BATTERY

Unless one is using a dry-cell battery which requires no maintenance, check the battery water levels. For wet-cell batteries, remove the caps and ensure there is enough battery water in each cell compartment. If the levels are below the minimum, get battery water from a petrol station or store and refill.

LIGHTS

While this is the simplest of checks to do, it could be the most crucial one. Although plenty of public areas have sufficient street lighting, lights still need to be functional to see in the dark portions of the roads if you are travelling in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

Working brake lights are also extremely important, as it is way more difficult to gauge when a car is slowing down without brake light indicator. This is especially true when are travelling at a high speed in heavy traffic; it can be dangerous to slow down and without being also to give indication to the car behind.

WIPERS AND WATER LEVELS

Check the wipers to ensure they are not oily. Working wipers should be able to wipe off water without leaving streaks.

If they are dirty, try wiping them with a wet cloth. This should make the surface cleaner and provide a better visual should it rain.

If simply wiping doesn’t work it is time to get new wipers.

It is extremely dangerous to drive in heavy rain as it is a struggle to see what is ahead. Thus it is important to do a quick check of the water levels and ensure there is sufficient water for the wipers.

FILL THE RADIATOR

Ensure there is enough coolant or water in the radiator. Be sure to only open the compartment when the engine is cool or before starting the car in the morning, to ensure the car does not overheat, especially when sitting stationary in a traffic jam.

BUCKLE UP

Seatbelts are there to keep drivers and passengers from getting flung out of the car during a collision. Belt up, whether you’re seated in the front or the back.

Make sure young children are seated in child car seats in the back, not the front, and that they are properly secured.

Holding a child or infant in the arms will not prevent them from being flung out during a collision.

According to studies, using a baby car seat can reduce the likelihood of fatality during a road accident by 70 per cent.

AVOID SUDDEN MOVES

About to miss the highway exit? Do not switch lanes suddenly. Cars in front of you suddenly stop? Do not switch lanes immediately to avoid also stopping.

Sudden moves surprise other drivers and they might not be able to react quickly enough.

STAY ALERT

If you are feeling tired, pull over and take a quick nap. Do not drive until the alertness returns.