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Driver dilemma

Have a summer road trip on the horizon? Here's how to prep your car for the journey

It’s not just about the picnic stops and the playlist.

SUMMER IS HERE and adventure awaits, especially for those of you who are planning a road trip getaway.

No doubt you have nailed down the most important aspects of your road trip – the route, the picnic stops and the playlist – but have you considered if your vehicle of choice is road trip ready?

Whether you’re embarking on a cross-country European journey or staying a bit more local, here are some tips for preparing your vehicle for the road, assuming it’s roadworthy to begin with, of course…

1. Check the fluid levels

Cars, just like humans, get thirsty in hot weather. Fluid evaporates quicker in heat, so you need to make sure that the oil, radiator, brake, transmission and power steering fluids are all topped up to the correct levels.

Same goes for washer fluid: make sure it is topped up with a decent screen wash as this will help degrease and clear bugs from your windscreen.

2. Prime your tyres for a fully loaded car

Tyres are paramount to safety, comfort and fuel efficiency so it is important that they are not only in good condition but at the correct pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You need to take into account if your car is going to be fully loaded with passengers and luggage and adjust the tyre pressure accordingly. All of this info should be in the car’s manual or online or on the driver’s side door jamb. You should check the tyre pressure every 1,600km or thereabouts.

3. Change your air filters

Air filters prevent dust, debris and bugs from entering the engine or interior but over time these filters can become clogged which can potentially affect engine performance, fuel economy and the air quality in the cabin.

It is recommended that you replace the air filters in your car about every 20,000km or once a year. Changing the air filter is also a great idea if you or your passengers suffer from hay fever, as closing the air vents will reduce the amount of pollen getting into the cabin.

4. Ensure you have a breakdown kit to hand

When you are packing the car with all your summer essentials, pack an extra bag for the car. Throw in some jump leads, an extra bottle of water, a torch, high-vis vest, emergency triangle, some spare bulbs and a small first aid kit.

This should be enough to cover you for any small emergencies you may have during your road trip.

More: Planning a beach trip? Here’s what to do if your car gets stuck on sand >

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