Whether you are driving far this weekend or staying local, a breakdown is the last thing you need. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do that will dramatically reduce your chances of having your long weekend shortened by car trouble!
Always close your boot and doors properly
This one seems simple but one of the biggest causes of flat batteries occurs when an interior light is left on. Make sure all the doors and the boot are completely closed. The last thing you want is a flat battery, or even worse, a thief stealing your property or vehicle.
Turn off your headlights
This also seems obvious but many NRMA call outs occur when a Member has left the headlights on by mistake and drained their battery.
Check your tyres
Apart from checking pressure and roadworthiness for all tyres, including the spare, it’s also essential to ensure you have a jack, wheel brace and lock nut tool specific for your vehicle. If you get a flat tyre, an NRMA patrol will only replace the tyre if a roadworthy spare is available, otherwise towing is available.
Know your mechanic
Many mechanics are closed over the long weekend, so it’s handy to have an idea of your preferred mechanic’s trading hours in case your vehicle needs towing. Otherwise, your NRMA Patrol will recommend an approved repairer or MotorServe in your area.
Check your oil level
Checking your oil is a simple and quick way to prevent a breakdown. Wait for a few minutes after you turn the engine off, and park on a level piece of roadway for the oil to settle. Before you remove the dipstick, make sure you look closely at its entry point into the engine – or you may not be able to reinsert it – and then wipe with a clean cloth or paper towel. Marked towards the lower end are the high and low-level markings, and the engine oil should always be between these two points. If it’s not between the points, add the correct specification oil via the engine oil filler cap located on the top of the engine.
Check your coolant
Checking the coolant level is just as simple. The easiest way is to check the plastic reserve tank that’s connected to the cooling system. On the side of the reservoir will be a low and high mark and the coolant level should be between the two marks. It’s always good practice to check the coolant level on the radiator via the radiator cap, with one important proviso – this should always be done when the engine is cold. Removing the cap when the engine is hot can cause coolant to spray out under pressure, seriously scalding you. If the level is low you can add coolant, again checking the owner’s handbook for the correct recommendation.
Check your brake fluid level
You should also check your brake fluid level regularly. Normally located at the back or side of the engine bay, the brake fluid reservoir is usually made of plastic with a high and low marking on the side. Normally the fluid will sit between these graduations, and vary slightly as the brake pads wear. If the level is continuously low and dropping there could be a leak in the braking system that requires immediate mechanical attention.
Also please note that NRMA offers free vehicle and battery health checks for Members so you can to pre-emptively deal with any potential problems. In the unfortunate event of a break-down, don’t worry! Extra NRMA patrol staff will be on hand over the weekend. Just log a request for assistance via the NRMA smartphone app or call 13 11 11. We are here and ready to help 24/7, whenever you need us.