4 essential steps for a safe road trip

Planning a road trip these upcoming holidays? You’re not alone. With international holidays still off the agenda and state borders largely open, Australians are gearing up to get back on road. Here are three steps to ensure a happy and safe post-lockdown car trip.

1. Love your battery

If your car has been sitting idle for weeks – perhaps you’re emerging from Melbourne’s lockdown – or you’ve only used it for short trips, such as to pick up groceries, chances are that your car battery needs some TLC.

“Battery problems are always the number 1 reason people call for roadside assistance. We saw a spike in battery-related callouts last year, after cars started being used much less during the first lockdown in 2020”, says Luke Laurence, Digicall Assist’s National Provider Manager.

As well as batteries going flat if your car hasn’t been driven for a while, occasional short trips – such as to your local supermarket – can actually make things worse for your battery’s health. Those short trips don’t give your car enough time to warm up, and deplete the battery, rather than charging it sufficiently.

Luke cautions, “As restrictions ease in Melbourne, we anticipate another increase in people needing assistance with battery problems.”

  • TIP: You can get your local mechanic to give your car’s battery a health check, to ensure that you don’t get stuck.

2. TLC for your tyres

Every car owner’s manual specifies the recommended pressure for tyres. Low pressure can cause your tyres to blow out. Be sure to check the pressure and top up as needed.

  • TIP: You can do this for free at your local service station.

When it comes to tyre tread, Australia has a legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm. This is to ensure there is enough tread on your tyres for safe driving. Worn out tyres, or tyres with uneven tread, are more likely to slip and cause accidents in poor driving conditions, such as when there’s water on the road.

According to Luke, “Around a quarter of all car assistance callouts that can’t be fixed over the phone and require a technician to attend at the roadside end up needing to be towed. This can be avoided in some cases by regularly checking your tyres and ensuring they’re in good condition.”

Rotating your tyres regularly is one way to avoid uneven wear on your tyres.

  • TIP: When you check your tyres, don’t forget the spare! Take a moment to check your spare tyre’s condition as well, so that if it’s needed, it’s also safe and ready to go.

3. A little spring clean goes a long way

Dirt and debris on the outside of your car can do a lot of damage to the insides, so it pays to clean your car if it’s been a while.

Check under your windscreen wipers and under the bonnet, and clean out any leaves and other debris. This stops the dirt getting into the pollen filter of your heating and cooling system.

Give your car’s sunroof a clean too, if you have one, so that debris doesn’t block your car’s drainage systems and sneak inside the car – creating mustiness inside, and damp carpet underfoot.

And if you park your car outside, make sure you clean off any bird poo sooner rather than later, or it can destroy the paintwork, which can’t be fixed.

4. Look at leaks and levels

Taking five minutes to check all the key fluid levels can save you hours of pain. It’s best to do this when the engine is cold and the car is parked on a level surface.

Check there’s enough oil, coolant (radiator and overflow if applicable), brake fluid and power steering (if applicable). If you need to top up make sure you use the recommended grade or the same fluid as what is already in the car – check the car manual if you’re not sure and do NOT mix with different products.

  • TIP: If you have any concerns, such as a fluid needs frequent topping-up, take your car to the mechanics for checking before setting out on your trip.

If you do breakdown and need roadside assistance, rest assured that Digicall Assist covers the whole of Australia. We provide roadside assistance on behalf of car brands, leading fleet management and major insurers in Australia, and can get you back on the road for that road trip holiday feeling.