Car tips for Moms – before you break down

You don’t have to be an expert in car maintenance to know when your car is in need of repair – but you also don’t have to wait until your car breaks down before you take action.

“Women are vulnerable when their car breaks down, and children even more so. You can remove the risk of breaking down unexpectedly, and the hefty bill that comes with it, by listening to your car’s warning signs,” says Edna de Sousa, the Product and Marketing Manager for Auto Mart South Africa. “Everyone should start empowering themselves by becoming familiar with their car – inside and out.”

De Sousa shares a few of the red flags drivers should spot before they get into trouble. These car tips for Moms are essential.

1. Your central locking is giving you hassles

When your central locking function starts giving you hassles, you may assume that the battery in the remote needs replacing – but your car battery may be the real culprit. “When your car battery starts running low, it’s designed to switch off anything that requires too much power and central locking is usually the first to go. Many service centres offer a free battery check – drive to one as soon as possible to double-check.”

2. Your windshield is chipped

“There is this myth that a chip can be as large as a 50c coin before it needs to be attended to – and this is not the case,” says De Sousa. “All chips have to be filled before they run, big or small, no exceptions. Glass is like wood – it expands and contracts – and if your car is parked in the sun all day, those cracks will keep expanding. It could not only obscure your vision, but potentially shatter, leading to massive injuries. It’s better not to take a risk.”

3. Your car battles to start in the morning

“A car that struggles to start up in the morning could be indicative of major problems – the fault could lie with your starter motor, or even a blocked fuel line, or a dying battery. It’s best to contact your nearest service centre and ask them to examine the engine. Remember that if you have a driveway that inclines or declines, your battery tilts along with the car, leaving cells exposed and without sufficient acid,” De Sousa advises. “If you suspect that your batteries are running dry, unscrew the little lids on the battery and have a look inside, or alternatively ask your nearest garage to do it for you.”

4. Your windows keep fogging up

“This is not so much a mechanical failure as an operational one,” De Sousa says. “Some of us don’t take the time to read the car manual. Be sure to download yours from the internet if you don’t have a print copy. Learn where your de-mister for the back window is located. Check your windshield wiper for cracks or rips – the minute you see damage, replace it.”

5. Your tyres are slippery

“Slippery tyres are immediate cause for alarm – it means that the tread has been worn down to the extent that the tyres have very little traction on the road. Most tyres have indicator bars built in – if you can’t see these, it’s time to replace your tyre. (They leave marks on the ground when you drive.),” De Sousa says. “Everyone should know how to change a tyre – a flat can happen to anyone.”

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