Buro Driving School: What to check on your car before you balik kampung/go on a long road trip
"Balik Kampung! Oh, oh, oh Balik Kampung!"
Come Raya season, the Balik Kampung song by Sudirman is sure to be one of the anthems for the celebration. While it does take a lot of strategic planning (should we leave on the weekend before Raya or on the eve of Raya?), mostly to avoid the dreaded journey and possible traffic, one shouldn't forget about checking the car to make sure it's road trip-ready. Ideally, the real cheat is to send your car for service before the trip, but otherwise, Erik Winter, Managing Director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM), has a simple three-point checklist for you, as well as some extra tips, to help you prepare for your balik kampung journey.
Three important things to check on the car before a long drive
1. Engine oil
Make sure your car is parked with the engine turned off, pop open your bonnet and look for the ring of the dipstick. Pull it out and clean off any excess oil with a cloth or a paper towel. Dip the stick back in and pull it out again, paying close attention to the oil level. The level should be between the two marked points on the dipstick. If the level is low, top up your car's engine oil.
Your tires are your car's only contact with the road and ensuring that they are in the best condition helps increase your fuel economy. If your tires are poorly inflated, they are prone to blowouts and it can be difficult to brake or steer. In Volkswagen cars, this is made easier as the Volkswagen tire pressure load indicator will help warn the driver if the tires are over or under-inflated. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for any damages such as stuck nails, swelling and treadwear depth and grooves before you begin your journey.
READ MORE: Does driving in eco mode really save fuel?
Parking under the hot sun can sometimes harden or damage the rubber. Before a long drive, check your wipers to ensure they are in good working condition for clear visibility. Be sure to also check on your washer fluid level—it is always good to top up before your long drive. Tip: Use the Volkswagen Genuine Windscreen Cleaner for a squeaky-clean windscreen.
Driving tips and more for long drives
1. Use cruise control
It really is heaven-sent for long-distance driving as it not only helps reduce driver fatigue but also increases fuel efficiency. It takes the strain of your journey by maintaining your vehicle speed, so your right foot can take a break once awhile. Fun fact: Volkswagen offers the cruise control function as standard on all models sold in Malaysia.
2. Know your warning lights
When driving, it is important to always be alert of your surroundings as well as the other drivers on the road. But you also need to keep an eye on your car's dashboard. Take the time to read the manual to familiarise yourself with the respective warning icons and what they mean.
3. Notice the small things
While driving, take note of how your car feels and responds. Look out for small changes such as sudden wobbliness of the tires, unresponsive steering, unusual noises, or sluggishness in the way the car responds. These could be signs that something is not right, so head over to the nearest car workshop for a quick check if any lights go on.
4. Keeping a safe distance
Always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and don't tailgate other cars as you may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. A safe distance in-between car is about 2 seconds from the car in front of you.
5. Pack along your charger cables
Don't leave it in the boot only to realise you need it mid-journey on the highway. Keep it juiced up so you can jam to endless Spotify playlists while driving. It also helps to keep you awake and alert. Some impromptu car-aoke performance won't hurt either.