Words: Dummett & Co
Road deaths in South Africa are among the highest in the world, and Johan Jonck from Arrive Alive says that most road accidents are attributable to human error – disregard for the rules of the road, including unsafe following distances and unsafe overtaking, speeding, drunk driving and driver fatigue.
But 10% of accidents occur as a result of “vehicle error” – when poor vehicle maintenance overlaps with human error. And as winter sets in, vehicle maintenance becomes even more important.
Midas, a leader in the replacement automotive parts industry, knows how important it is to keep your car well maintained, for your own safety and that of others. “Winter temperatures in South Africa can have a real impact on your vehicle,” says Michael Turnbull, Midas Group, Marketing Manager. “The cold season magnifies existing problems such as hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling. At Midas, we care about the safety of all road users, and we align ourselves with reputable brands so we can stock quality products for our consumers’ needs.”
According to the Automobile Association (AA), the top five things that should be well maintained in winter are your car’s cooling system (radiator), battery, windscreen and windscreen wipers, tyres and lights.
Your car’s cooling system protects the engine against damage by ensuring that it operates within normal temperature ranges. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the coolant and raises its boiling point, so for your car’s cooling system to work effectively, its antifreeze levels must be kept topped up, and the system shouldn’t contain rust, dirt or mineral deposits. Antifreeze also makes it easy to notice any leaks in the system.
Care for your battery
Batteries tend to give more problems during winter, as a result of the increased amps drawn by the starter to crank the cold engine. The best way to avoid winter car troubles is to ensure your car battery is in good working order: keep its water (electrolyte) level topped up, using only distilled water (water that’s boiled and been allowed to cool). Clean the terminals regularly with warm (not hot) soapy water and remove any acid or dirt which may have accumulated on the battery case.
Always check your windscreen and wipers
If your car has to stay out in the cold, there will probably be a layer of frost blanketing the windscreen in the mornings. Don’t be tempted to use warm water to get rid of the ice, as this may cause cracks in the glass. Rather use a scraper – an old credit card works well. Wiper blades must be in good condition and need to be inspected regularly. Don’t use your wipers to clear mud and soil from the windscreen – this could scratch the glass.
Make sure your tyres are in good shape
Tyres must always be in an overall good condition – not only the tread, but the sidewalls as well. And maintaining tyres at the correct pressures is of the utmost importance for optimum roadholding and tyre life.
Check your lights
Winter usually means more driving in the dark, so it’s very important that all the lights on the vehicle are in good working condition and that the focus of the headlights is correctly adjusted. Keep a spare set of globes in the cubbyhole, just in case.
• As a precaution, keep your vehicle stocked with jumper cables, a torch, a blanket, extra clothes, bottled water and a basic first-aid kit.
About Midas Group
Midas Group, now in its 60th year of operation, trades in the replacement automotive parts industry, marketing and distributing quality automotive, DIY, DIFM (do-it-for-me) and leisure travel products.
Midas Group is 75% owned by diversified industrial services and retail group, Imperial Holdings Ltd., 15% by Midas Group management and 10% by a franchise trust (franchisees and members). In the financial year ending 2013, the group generated turnover in excess of R3, 8 billion and employs more than 1 200 members of staff. It distributes all leading OE (Original Equipment) brands as genuine replacement parts and also offers the customer (franchise owner) the option of guaranteed, quality brands. The Midas Group has a number of sustainability initiatives underway, to not only drive awareness around, but also reduce the impact of its activities on the environment. Additionally, the organisation is committed to a number of socio-economic development programmes across South Africa.