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First Gear English edition, SOS (Chapter 10)


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Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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First Gear English edition, SOS (Chapter 10)

  1. 1. CHAPTER 10: SOS Much like having a best friend, owning a car is a fun experience – generally speaking. Alas, things can go wrong. You and your friend can have an argument. With your car, things can Scenario number one: owner’s manual will stipulate easily be as traumatic: you can break down The breakdown precisely how often your car needs and end up stranded on the side of the road. We’ve all heard horror stories about to be serviced. Don’t ignore these people breaking down and it always guidelines; cars are like relationships You can have an accident. Or your car could be happens in the dead of night on a – they need attention. You must hijacked or get stolen. But follow our trusty quiet road. In reality, a breakdown adhere to those service intervals survival guide and you stand a good chance of isn’t normally that traumatic; there anyway, because if you fail to do so, avoiding those motoring nightmares. is often a knight in shining armour to your car’s warranty may not cover lend a helping hand (or, failing that any subsequent repairs. romantic prospect, an auto club). Secondly, get to know your car – But it’s still a stressful affair – so and especially those pesky lights on there are a couple of steps that you the dashboard. If they do light can take to prevent this happening up, you need to know what they in the first place. stand for. Once again, all this The first is keeping your vehicle in information will be in your owner’s tip-top running condition. Your manual. So read it!78  First Gear First Gear  79
  2. 2. Two of the major causes of breakdowns are fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre. Scenario number two: need the other driver’s name and The accident address, identity number, make of You may think you’re the world’s vehicle as well as the vehicle greatest driver (and maybe you are). registration number.” Despite this, chances are good that you Always keep a notebook and pen in will meet someone “by accident” one your glove box, in order to record these day. So, what do you do if this happens? details. Your mobile telephone is a really Specific legislation varies from handy tool: you can use it to country to country, but there are a photograph the actual crash site. If you Two of the major causes of breakdowns mechanical item on your car could fail. You couple of “rules of thumb” that apply don’t have a camera, a simple sketchare fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre. need to be properly prepared, so consider the world over. If you do have an plan of the accident could prove to beNever ever allow your fuel to run to below a keeping some essential items in your car, accident, your first priority is to check to invaluable – especially if a court casequarter tank. And always ensure that your including: see if anyone has been hurt. Then, you results from the collision.tyres are in good condition and properly •• Charger for your mobile telephone need to exchange your details with the An important word of advice: whileinflated. “Wear and tear are the main •• Blanket driver of the other vehicle. “On a chatting to the other driver, stay calmculprits behind flat tyres and blowouts. •• Bottle of water practical level being involved in an (shouting or boxing never helps theWhen you fill up with fuel get into the habit •• First aid kit accident is a traumatic event. It is quite situation). Always report the accident toof checking your tyre pressure and tread at •• Torch easy to forget your responsibilities and police within 24 hours.the same time, and look to see if there is •• Map to act out of character,” comments Gary The AA suggests that, if your vehicleanything, such as a nail or piece of glass, •• Matches Ronald, public affairs manager, needs to be towed to a panel beater orwhich is sticking in the tread but hasn’t •• Energy bars Automobile Association (AA) South body repair shop, you should contactpunctured the tyre yet,” Green Flag, a British •• Wet wipes Africa. “However it is very important to your insurer and be guided by them asprovider of breakdown cover, advises. Oh •• Money (a secret stash of cash in the make sure that as the driver you obtain to who to call to do the recovery andand don’t forget to check the spare! boot) as much information from the driver of where to take the vehicle. Always obtain Check the oil and tyre pressures on your •• Fire extinguisher the other vehicle. Typically you would a reference every time you refuel. Wash your car •• Reflective trianglesyourself once a month – and, while you’re at •• Jumper cablesit, do a visual check on the general condition •• Notebook and penof your tyres and lights. •• Tyre bomb (tyre sealant canister) Of course, even if you adhere to theseprecautions, you could still break down – a80  First Gear First Gear  81
  3. 3. Scenario number three: Bearing this mind, we asked the The theft South African Police Service for som It happens every single day som e tips to ewhere help minimise vehicle theft. The in the world: a car is stolen. It’s men a and women in uniform suggest horrible feeling: emerging from the the mall following: only to find our much-loved set of •• Park in well-lit areas wheels gone. But you can ado pt some •• Lock all the doors and make preventative measures to min sure the imise the windows are all closed chances of your car going mis sing. •• Fit an alarm and immobiliser The first tip is the most obvious if your : lock car doesn’t already have one your car! Incredibly, lots of peo ple still •• Fit locks to your wheels so they don’t do this… with disastrous can’t be stolen consequences! For instance, Prin cess •• Leave nothing visible in your Beatrice of England had her car car stolen •• Be aware of your surrounding after she left the keys in the igni s at all tion. times Locking your car won’t only min imise •• Avoid stopping in remote area the chances of it being stolen; s it will also reduce the chance of som eone If you live in a country where veh hiding in the back seat when you icle return. theft is commonplace, a tracking It’s a sad fact of life that, in Sou device th is a good idea. Africa, vehicle theft is common place. is more from the car. Your life Scenario number four: possessions valuable than your The hijacking •• Never give strange rs a lift vehicle Even sca rier is the prospect of •• Become familia r with your route s can involve hijacking, because thi before you start the trip , we turned to nd as pe rsonal risk. Once again •• Have your keys ready in your ha the South African boys and girls in r, esp ecially if you approach your ca d this is what your uniform for advice, an they are difficult to find in they recomme nd: to buy a leash, handbag. It’s possible travel to work and your handbag •• Vary the route you which is attached to s back, if this is possible and makes it ea sy to locate your key tering near or at rking attenda nts •• If strangers are loi •• Parking lots with pa st and alert yo ur driveway, drive pa or supervisio n are best y or police ays leave enough your security compan •• At traffic lights, alw •• Car hijackers or extortionists may and the car in you. space between you stage a mino r accident to entrap never boxed in front of you so you are Be aware of this. If your car is , ch eck around you •• As you near home d and you think following you? bumped from behin – any suspicious cars drive to the sit uation is suspicious, •• Only turn into yo ur garage or tion for help te/door is open, the nearest police sta driveway once the ga co operate fully. Do r driving up •• If you are hijacked, to prevent another ca not reach for your purse or valuables. you in behind and blocking hind if forced Leave everything be 82  First Gear   First Gear  83