Car safety tips for your holiday trip


Nicolette Dirk, finance writer,

According to the Automobile Association (AA) it is always a good idea to have your vehicle checked before you leave on a long journey. If your service is due, have it done before your holiday trip. You can take your car to a DEKRA centre for a safety check. DEKRA is one of the leading roadworthy inspection companies in South Africa.

The day before the trip you should give your car a basic inspection by checking all of the vehicle’s lights (head lights, brake lights, tail lights and indicators) and check the windscreen for chips and cracks. You should also make sure the windscreen wipers work and are in good condition. Fill up the water reservoir, check the oil level and brake fluid, and inspect the condition of all the tyres, including the all-important spare wheel and tools.

Traviz Krause from Toyota Care says one of the most important aspects of a vehicle’s safety depends on the tyre. The tyre tread should never be worn down as it can be dangerous when travelling for a long distance.

The balance and alignment of your car is also one of the important items of your pre-road trip inspection that must be checked. Krause says that when you are travelling at a speed of 120km/hour and your car starts shaking, it usually indicates that your vehicle’s balance is out.

If you are driving and your car feels like it is steering to the right or left, it is usually because of an alignment problem.

Krause adds that the state of the car’s spare wheel is often overlooked by drivers. Before a road trip, make sure your tyres are pumped up and your tools are easily accessible.

Where can you have your car inspected before a road trip?

DEKRA offers a 20% discount on their holiday safety checks at their nationwide branches. Their safety check inspects key safety items and can identify worn or defective parts that do not form part of a standard manufacturer’s service plan.  The service check includes suspension, steering, visible fluid leaks, the cooling and braking system. Your tyres, fan belt, radiator hoses and lights will also be checked as part of the holiday safety checks.

Service deals

Independent service centres like Pretoria-based, JSRacing, is also offering a holiday special of R499 for a service on any vehicle. The service includes an oil change, oil filter, air filter clean and a tune and set-up:

The service centre at Volkswagen Barons in Cape Town is also offering a R650 holiday special on an hour long service to check that your car is safe enough for a holiday road trip. They have a 12 month guarantee on parts used for this service.

At Toyota you will pay R1 000 for a service on a small car and R1 200 for bigger vehicles. Most dealerships add that it is best to get a service at your car’s dealership to maintain your warranty.


Road safety during the holidays

AA head of public affairs, Graeme Scala, says South Africa has modern roads, modern vehicles and considerable funding available for road safety but the lack of government prioritisation of road safety is the missing piece of the puzzle.

“A fatal crash happens every 48 minutes in South Africa, resulting in more than 13 800 deaths a year,” says Scala

There are things you can do to mitigate the risks. According to the AA wearing a seatbelt can reduce death risk in a head-on crash by as much as 72%.

Don’t drink and drive. The AA states that more than half of all people killed in crashes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their deaths.

Speeding is also one of the leading causes of road accidents but this problem is not unique to South Africa. This month, actor Paul Walker, famous for his role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, was killed while driving with a friend in a speeding Porsche.

“South Africa’s seatbelt wearing rate is very low by world standards. Motorists must buckle up these holidays, and not drive after drinking,” says Scala.

For more safety tips on travelling on the road this holiday go to