Preparing for a Tour

1. Remember that it is always cheaper to fix problems in your home territory, and of course, much more convenient.


2. Apart from bad weather, the most disappointing thing that can happen on a car trip is to have a mechanical breakdown, or something that keeps playing up.  This is when thoughts like ‘should we turn back?’ or ‘I wonder if we’ll get through tomorrow OK.’

3. If you have your car serviced through a garage, tell your service man exactly where you are going, and for how long.  This will give him a clue as to what to check beyond the normal service.


4. If you do your own servicing, there are a number of very important areas to look at.

 a. First thing check your tyres.  How old are they?  If they are 10 years old they need replacing --- end of story!  They may still have 90% of tread left, but the rubber itself will have become too hard to cope with emergency braking, let alone wet-weather grip.  This is your only contact with the road.

b. Check for loose or broken spokes and wheel bearing play.

c. Check brake pad & lining wear.

d. Are your seats comfortable?  If not, why not?

e. How long has it been since your spark plugs, contact points and condenser were changed?  If you are only doing a very low mileage per year, at least have them checked.  Also, very important and often forgotten - the thermostat.  This darned thing ages even when the car is not being used.  Replace it every two years, regardless how good it may look.

f. Hoses and fan belt.  Again, how old are they?  After five years, they should be replaced.  Don’t forget the windscreen wiper rubbers.

5. Spare parts to take with you.  These are not expensive items, and to have them wherever you go is like carrying insurance.  It’s not much fun being stuck in ‘upper cumbucca west’ and being told “we can get it for you in a couple of days”.  What is wise to carry everywhere is - a radiator hose, fan belt, set of points, condenser, spark plug, several fuses, thermostat housing gasket, accelerator cable, a few spare globes, tyre pump (electric), torch, tools to fit all the above, a jack that works and copper mallet - or wheel brace for disc wheels, a few syringes of valve master additive if your cylinder head has not been converted to unleaded fuel.


6. How old are your batteries? Have them professionally checked for condition.  Some will last for 10 years; others play up after only 3 or 4 years.