Pre-holiday car checks will reduce road accidents

Believe it or not, December is just around the corner and now is the time to get your pre-holiday vehicle checks done before the last-minute scramble begins, says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

“It is our responsibility as motorists to do what we can to avoid accidents on our roads during the festive season and servicing your car before a road-trip is one way to do just that,” he says. 

One only has to look at the unacceptably high number of road fatalities every year to appreciate the importance of checking your car before you go on a long trip. Layton Beard, Head: Public Affairs and International Relations of the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), says 2021 stats available from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show that in 2021 there were 12541 fatalities on SA roads (42% pedestrians, 29% drivers, 28% passengers, 1% other, such as cyclists).  He says these fatalities are the result of 10607 fatal crashes throughout the year (1 January – 31 December).   If one looks specifically at the festive season statistics from 2021/2022 (The period under review here is 1 December 2021 to 11 January 2022), there were 1808 fatalities resulting from 1395 fatal crashes over this period.

Ranft says with more people probably travelling this year, the numbers could escalate even further.

Every year workshops get flooded in November and December with motorists wanting vehicle checks and needing repairs just days before they plan to leave on holiday. “What motorists don’t realise is that should maintenance be needed on their vehicle and spare parts are not in stock, these need to be ordered, particularly now when there have been post Covid shortages on parts and delays at the harbours following the recent Transnet strike. This could take several days, if they are available at all. It is risky leaving things to the last minute and could put a real dampener on holiday plans,” he says.

He explains that mechanics should do a thorough check of the vehicle which will include a road test and an assessment of the following safety critical parts including lights; suspension; drive lines; brakes fluid levels; wipers and windscreen and V belts.

Then importantly also visit an accredited tyre fitment centre to check your tyres and your exhaust.  Vishal Premlall, national director of the Tyres Equipment Parts Association (TEPA) says to keep tyres in good condition consider rotating every 7 000 to 10 000km.  “8 000km is generally optimal,” he says. He recommends that the tyres are balanced, rotated and aligned, particularly before a long trip.  Ideally the spare tyre, shocks and exhaust should be checked as well as these all impact the performance and safety of the car on long trips.

If a problem is identified, the mechanic or fitment centre will be able to advise the vehicle owner and provide a quote for repairs needed.

“There are accredited MIWA workshops and TEPA fitment centres around the country that will do an excellent job of getting your vehicle holiday ready. What’s important is booking for your service or tyre check now – even if you only take the car in in a few weeks’ time. Rather schedule it in now so you remember to do it ahead of the holiday time.” Many workshops are in fact offering free holiday checks if you book in early enough. Remember to always use an accredited workshop so you have recourse in the event anything goes wrong.

“There’s nothing worse than having your holiday plans delayed or cancelled because of car issues. Don’t wait until late November or December. Get organised now,” concludes Ranft.