DRIVING out of town can place a lot of stress on a vehicle and its driver, especially if a lot of people are tagging along with their own sets of luggage.
And this coming Holy Week, expect a lot of people to drive toward their favorite vacation or tourist destinations even if they very well know that others will be doing the same thing. So expect a lot of traffic along major roads, highways, and expressways that could tax a vehicle, its driver, and even occupants.
Although the latest generation of vehicles are definitely more fuel-efficient and reliable than their counterparts decades back, it is best to have their fluids checked before that long out-of-town drive. Do this if the next periodic maintenance schedule (PMS) of your vehicle is just a few hundred kilometers away.
Although it rarely happens, the automatic transmission of vehicles that are driven by motorists that do not shift to neutral during traffic may result to faster degradation of the automatic transmission fluid that can possibly result to transmission failure.
Also, any vehicle driven mostly in city traffic cannot always follow the recommended oil change interval (ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 kilometers) because oil degrades faster in city driving. There are also cases when coolant levels drop if a car is driven mostly in city traffic.
Since not all motorists are “old school” or rarely or do not open the hood of their vehicles to check the fluids, there is a danger that a vehicle may experience transmission breakdown or even overheating if the fluids are no longer in good shape. A transmission breakdown is a nightmare if it happens on the road – you have no option but to have your vehicle towed to your home or dealership.
So the first thing to do to make sure your vehicle is in good shape for that out-of-town drive is to make sure all the fluids – automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, and coolant – are at their proper levels and not smelling like cooked or burned oil. Engine oil and automatic transmission fluid that are in good condition are also viscous.
Although changing a vehicle’s brake shoes and/or discs may not be necessary yet for that out-of-5
town drive based on PMS schedules, it is advisable to have these checked and cleaned for dust and other particles. This service is not that expensive and can give motorists great peace of mind that their vehicles’ brake system can function properly for that out-of-town drive.
Also, the tires should be checked if all of them still have enough tread left, and this includes the spare tire! Never go out of town without checking the spare tire because nobody wants to get a flat tire only to find out that the spare tire has a leak that can make it totally useless.
There are motorists who use nitrogen instead of air for their tires, because nitrogen does not leak faster than air and does not expand faster than air when heated, resulting in more uniform tire pressure during travel. More importantly, maintain the proper tire pressure: more load will require a slightly higher tire pressure. Never drive with underinflated tires!
Fit for the long drive
Staying alert and cool-headed for that long out-of-town drive is a no-brainer; if a driver is tired and irritable, chances of getting into an accident are increased.
So before that long out-of-town drive, make sure to get the required hours of sleep that will make you alert and cool-headed the next day, which is usually six to 10 hours. Also, do not drive off hungry.
While there are some motorists who can endure driving for long hours, there is nothing wrong with taking a break at a gas station or the center of a city. Having an alternate driver for that long out-of-town drive is highly recommended.
Fighting fatigue is one of the challenges of out-of-town driving, especially if there is massive traffic 50 percent of the route to be traveled. And while energy drinks are becoming popular, do not abuse its use because taking too much of those can result to loss of coordination or an “energy crash” that can be dangerous when driving over long distances. The lesson here is nothing beats adequate rest to maintain alertness and level-headedness when driving for long hours.
So when taking that long out-of-town drive, make sure you and your vehicle are both in good shape.