7 Essential Vehicle Checks Before A Family Road Trip

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A family road trip is a fantastic way to explore but to keep the fun rolling on, there’s some essential vehicle checks to make before you set off.

We have put together a list of things to check on and in your car before you head away to help ensure your trip is unforgettable for all the right reasons!

It’s a good idea to get this checklist underway well in advance of your departure date so that you are not getting things fixed the day before or even on departure day.

1. WOF, registration, and insurance

Make sure your Warrant of Fitness, registration and insurance are all up to date. While you are checking these, check the brake lights, indicators, and interior lights all work.

2. Tyres

Even though you have a current warrant of fitness, it pays to take a good look at your tyres and check for any nails or screws that may have embedded themselves and any undue sign of wear. If in doubt, get them checked by a professional. Check that the pressure in all of them, including the spare, is to the car specifications – you can usually find them in the handbook, on a label on the door frame, or online.

If you are going to be towing, give those tyres a good check too. Even if the tyres look ok, but are really old, it may pay to replace them.

3. Child car seats

There are several things to check to ensure your children’s car seats are up to the task of reducing movement in the event of an accident. While under New Zealand law all children under seven years must use a child restraint appropriate to their size, age and development, a child older than seven may still be safer and more comfortable in a car seat. It is recommended that children under two years old stay in a rear-facing restraint.

Ensure the car seat fits your child – check the  manufacturer’s recommended weight or height restrictions for that model of child restraint and also check the expiry date.

Have a good look at the restraint and ensure there is no wear and tear on any of the straps.

If the car seat has been involved in a minor accident, ie the vehicle was able to be driven, the door nearest the car seat was not damaged, no passengers sustained injuries, air bags did not deploy, and there is no visible damage to the car seat, you probably do not need to replace the seat.

If any of these outcomes did occur in the accident, you should replace the car seat – and that’s why, following an accepted claim where the vehicle is covered by your AMI Car Insurance policy, AMI will replace child car seats where the above criteria applies, with brand new seats through Baby On The Move. They’ll also arrange for your old seat to be recycled via SeatSmart – keeping Kiwi kids safe from old damaged seats in the second-hand market. You can find out more about AMI child car seat cover by visiting ami.co.nz/childcarseatcover.

4. Windscreen and wipers

Check that your windscreen is in good condition and that there are no chips in the glass. While you may get a warrant with a small chip that isn’t in your eye line, a chip can grow into a crack, especially in cold weather, and then need replacing. There are a number of companies who can fill the chip.

Check your wiper blades are still working well – a squeaky blade, or one that leaves streaks is annoying and unsafe.

5. Oil, engine coolant, brake fluid and fuel

If you know how, check the oil, engine coolant and brake fluid are all topped up. If you are not sure, ask a professional. And don’t forget to fill the fuel tank!

6. Tyre changing / breakdown kit

Take some time to ensure you know where the kit is kept and that all the parts are there. It’s also a good time to check you know where the spare tyre is and how to remove it from its storage place. Some are hidden away and require a tool inserted into a screw fitting to wind them out. Other items that are useful for dealing with a flat tyre or a breakdown include two reflective warning triangles, a reflective jacket, a torch, and a small tarpaulin.

You might like to include a can of tyre inflator and sealant.

7. Emergency kit

It’s a good idea to prepare for an accident, a breakdown, or a road closure so check you have a small tool kit, a first-aid kit, warm clothes, and a blanket. You might like to include a hammer product that can break glass as well as cut seatbelts in case of an accident.

What’s your top tip for preparing for a family car trip?

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author robynWritten by Robyn

Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments. 

Favourite motto to live by: “This too will pass”

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