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Things to Check in Your Car After a Trip

Ridhima Ahluwalia, 01-Nov-2010

Tips 1-4

Checks After A Trip

AUTO BILD INDIA tells you exactly what things might need to be checked after you have come back from a long road trip

Most people know that before starting off on a road trip the car needs to be checked; engine oil, coolants and wiper fluids, etc should be at recommended levels. This ensures that the trip itself is hassle free. What they often don't realise however is that a thorough check up is as necessary once they've returned from the trip. This will ensure that the car stays fit and fine after the stress and strain of a long trip. And yes, cars undergo a lot of stress and strain on highways, particularly Indian highways that may not be smooth leading to wear and tear of the suspension, where you might have had to brake really hard because a goat ran out in front of you without warning leading to quicker wearing out of the brake pads, and more. We have listed 10 basic checks to ensure your car's good health.

1. Air Filter

Air Filter

Passing through dusty semiurban and rural areas, the air filter surely takes a beating combating it all and keeping the air going to the cylinders clean and relatively dust-free. Either have it inspected by your workshop or do it yourself once you're back. In most cars, it is easily accessible as it is held down by a few clamps or by a single nut. If it appears to be clogged with dust then have it replaced to ensure a troublefree run in future.

2. Rubber seals deteriorate

Rubber seals deteriorate

Door seals are needed to keep your window mechanisms in good working condition and to protect the door panels from rust and corrosion brought on by outside elements. They also cushion the door frame during numerous doorslammings that could otherwise jolt hardware and other mechanisms. Although a rubber seal that seems to be coming off can be glued back on, replace it if it feels hard since it also means that the seal has become brittle.


3. Tighten nuts & bolts

Tighten nuts & bolts

Going over bad roads, engine vibrations and so on, will induce rattles and noises in your car as nuts and bolts are shaken loose. While rattling nuts and bolts are seldom more than irritants, they can and sometimes do hide other sounds that might have been a warning. So, if you've just done a long road trip and your car is a little rattly, just get all the nuts and boltstightened by a mechanic.

4. Touch up all scratches

Touch up all scratches

There is no telling when you might get a little scratch or a dent while travelling, but if you do then you should try and get the dent or the scratch immediately repaired. This is important because if the scratch is deep enough for the base metal to become exposed then there will be a possibility of rust setting in on the scratched part. If nothing, get a touch up job done until you can get to a workshop.


Fuel pump

If the engine does not start, or it starts, then stalls and dies, then the problem could be a fuel filter or pump problem. A partially restricted filter will usually pass enough fuel to keep the engine running at idle or low speed, but may starve the engine of fuel at higher speeds or loads. So your engine may run fine going around town, but might lack power when you try to drive at highway speeds. Have your workshop do a thorough check for the source of the problem.

Tips 5-10

5. Mud flaps get damaged

Mud flaps get damaged

Mud flaps can easily become loose, or even break, when going over uneven terrain, specially if they touch the ground while manoeuvring over speed breakers or going through potholes. Additionally, they also get damaged by small stones and other objects flung back by the tyres when the car is moving at high speed on the highway. Replace them if they're broken or if they are damaged.


6. Engine & Brake oil

Engine & Brake oil

If your next oil change is due after a while, get it done soon after the trip. Continuous driving would have aged the engine oil faster than regular city driving also the heat can make the fluid less effective. To check the engine oil, Locate the engine oil dipstick and pull the dipstick out, wipe it with a clean rug or a paper towel and insert it back fully. Pull it out again and check the level. If the oil appears too black it definitely needs to be changed. If the level is low, you can top it up using the same type of oil as you already have in the engine. Check the brake oil as well and if the level is low top it up to max level.


7. Brake pads and disc

Brake pads and disc

Brake pads don’t pack up very quickly and their wear and tear depends mainly on how you drive. But if you hear squealing sounds when the brakes are applied then it means it is time for new brake pads. If you feel a grinding, metal-against-metal sound when braking it indicates your brake pads or shoes are completely worn away, and you are now ruining the discs or drums.


8. Cleaning the upholstery

Cleaning the upholstery

If you were driving with the family on vacation, then there will be chances of cola and food spills on the upholstery. If there are, then don't let the stain sit too long before you get to work on it. Within a few days, most spills and stains will begin to set and permanently damage your upholstery or become very difficult to remove. Tobacco smoke is one of the most difficult smells to remove from a car. The smoke permeates everything, including the foam used in seat cushions. But there are lots of odour retardants available which can help. A good car shampooing at the workshop will take care of it though.


9. Alignment


Going over potholes and uneven terrain leads to misalignment of the tyres. Incorrect alignment results in rapid and irregular tyre wear and can impact the handling and safety of the car. Alignment can be affected by driving against a kerb, hitting a pothole or by excessive wear to steering or suspension components. Get the tyres checked and realigned, if necessary.


10. Suspension damage

Suspension damage

The steering and suspension of your car are things that are sure to be affected, given the poor condition of the majority of roads in India. Unfortunately, they can only be properly inspected at a workshop. However there are indications of impending problems, almost always. Watch out for unwarranted vibrations in the steering column or odd noises when the car goes over undulations and irregularities. Also see if the car is behaving unpredictably, either in a straight line or around bends. Get the suspension checked once you're back. If there is any damage to the suspension or steering, get it repaired or replaced as soon as you can.




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