• The pre-holiday check-up is complimentary for every Ford vehicle in South Africa and can be completed in under thirty minutes
• All Ford customers are encouraged to make use of the pre-holiday vehicle check at their local Ford dealer
• Vehicles that have been parked for long periods due to COVID-19 might encounter additional problems
“There are enough challenges to deal with on any long-distance journey without having to worry about the reliability of your car,” says Maja Smith, Customer Experience Manager, FMCSA. “The many long hours spent in a car as well as coping with other distractions and demands en-route can be a stressful time for motorists.
Besides the roads being inundated with holidaymakers, the vehicles along these routes are often overloaded with luggage and equipment which can place added strain on various engine, suspension and brake components. If these are not in optimal working condition, the consequences can range from temporary downtime and frustration to potentially life-threatening emergencies.
Regardless of whether you own a new Ford or an earlier model, the pre-holiday vehicle check-up has been adding value to South Africans for the last three years. Although this vehicle check-up has matured into a cornerstone of the Ford ownership experience, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic means that there is now possibly an even stronger reason to pay attention to your car’s overall condition.
Travel restrictions during the initial phases of COVID-19 resulted in many vehicles being parked for extended periods of time. While that might seem beneficial to wear and tear items, a car that hasn’t been driven in a long time is likely to show signs of battery fatigue and tyre flat spots. It is also important to remember that service intervals are recommended every 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first. Accordingly, although your vehicle’s mileage might be unusually low this year, it may still in fact be time for a scheduled service. All Ford technicians have been trained to quickly identify these potential issues and inform the customer if anything needs to be repaired or replaced.
The entire process, at Ford dealers countrywide, has been designed to be convenient and to take less than thirty minutes to complete – enough time for customers to enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee at the dealership and catch up on mails. The details of all Ford dealers, including nearest location and contact numbers, can be found by visiting the Ford website. From here, making a booking that suits your schedule is simple and straightforward. At the end of the vehicle check-up, the customer will receive a detailed, obligation-free assessment, highlighting any area that needs attention. This includes assessing the following items:
1. Fluids (Oil and Coolant)
An under-the-bonnet check is first on the list. Fluid levels are one of the main concerns motorists need to be aware of. If your coolant and oil levels are low, your vehicle might have a leak somewhere.
The pre-holiday check-up also checks the brake fluid, which is the hydraulic fluid that the system uses to apply pressure to your brakes. If this level is too low, your car is not safe to drive.
You need to ensure that all of your car’s lights are working correctly at all times – both so you can see and can be seen. This is a simple but important test.
Ford’s complimentary pre-holiday vehicle check will test that all the lights on the vehicle are working correctly. This includes the headlights, brights, daytime-running lights where applicable, brake lights, reverse lights, and all indicators.
December is the rainy season in many parts of South Africa, so it’s important to make sure that your wipers are in perfect condition.
The test is simple – are the wipers clearing the water from the windscreen, or are they leaving lines of water that impair your vision? Before setting out, use the windscreen washers to spray the windscreen and then check if the wipers are doing their job.
4. Wheels and Tyres
Tyres are perhaps the most important part of your vehicle, and with tyres not getting the normal mileage and rotation because of COVID-19, one needs to be extra vigilant.
Tyre life and quality is determined by making sure that there is still the legal amount of tread depth left on the tyres. The legal limit is 1mm of remaining tread depth, or 1.6mm if the tyre has an embedded tread wear indicator – although it is recommended to change your tyres with around 3mm of tread remaining, otherwise your vehicle is at much higher risk of aquaplaning or not stopping effectively in wet conditions. Tyres should also be regularly checked for other signs of damage like bubbles, surface cuts or uneven wear.
It is important for motorists to check their tyre pressure regularly, even if they are not on a road trip. If a tyre is over inflated, it will wear in the middle of the tyre, and if it is underinflated, it will wear on the sides and edges and may overheat and fail while travelling at speed – with potentially life-threatening consequences. Both kinds of wear can also cause braking, noise, vibration, and wheel alignment concerns.
Part of Ford’s complimentary pre-holiday check-up also includes checking the wheel bearings. Worn wheel bearings can cause vibration in the wheels and wheel alignment issues.
5. Brake Pads
Another critical component to consider is brake pad wear. Once the pad wears down below its minimum thickness, Ford will advise that the pads needs to be replaced so that the car’s best braking performance can be achieved. The handbrake should also be checked to see if it is working and adjusted correctly.
The under-the-hood checks of the fluid levels will include a thorough examination for visible oil spots or coolant leaks that might be dripping onto the ground. Coolant can be identified by its shiny texture that looks similar to oil.
7. Drive Belts
While underneath the vehicle, a Ford technician will check the drive belt for any cracks. If the drive belt is damaged, worn, or breaks, it can cause a complete engine shutdown and damage.
8. Spare Wheel
A simple yet essential check that you can do yourself before tackling any long journey is checking to see if your spare tyre, the jack and spanner are all present in your vehicle and if they are in working order.
You also want to make sure that your spare wheel has a properly inflated tyre on it. Chances are you have not had to use it in a while, so check the pressure before setting off – you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of the Karoo with a flat spare wheel.
Some tests can only be done under driving conditions. Qualified technicians can pick up certain concerns that the everyday driver may miss, including engine sounds, vibrations and suspension issues.
For the steering check the car will be driven on the road and see whether the steering pulls in a certain direction. This could indicate a wheel alignment problem. Excessive dipping in the front or rear of the vehicle when accelerating, braking or driving over a bump in the road may indicate that the shock absorbers need replacement, as this severely impacts the overall handling and safety of the vehicle – especially when heavily laden.
While the brake pads are checked when the car is stationary, it is important to evaluate how the vehicle reacts to braking when driving – whether it pulls to either side under braking. It is unsafe to drive a vehicle that can’t be controlled effectively under braking.