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CHAPTER 10: SOS Much like having a best friend, owning a car is a fun
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
easily be as traumatic: you can break down
and end up stranded on the side of the road.
You can have an accident. Or your car could be
hijacked or get stolen. But follow our trusty
survival guide and you stand a good chance of
avoiding those motoring nightmares.
Scenario number one:
The breakdown
We’ve all heard horror stories about
people breaking down and it always
happens in the dead of night on a
quiet road. In reality, a breakdown
isn’t normally that traumatic; there
is often a knight in shining armour to
lend a helping hand (or, failing that
romantic prospect, an auto club).
But it’s still a stressful affair – so
there are a couple of steps that you
can take to prevent this happening
in the first place.
The first is keeping your vehicle in
tip-top running condition. Your
owner’s manual will stipulate
precisely how often your car needs
to be serviced. Don’t ignore these
guidelines; cars are like relationships
– they need attention. You must
adhere to those service intervals
anyway, because if you fail to do so,
your car’s warranty may not cover
any subsequent repairs.
Secondly, get to know your car –
and especially those pesky lights on
the dashboard. If they do light
up, you need to know what they
stand for. Once again, all this
information will be in your owner’s
manual. So read it!
stand for. Once again, all this information will be in your owner’s manual. So read it!

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Two of the major causes of breakdowns are fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst

Two of the major causes of breakdowns are fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre.

Scenario number Two:

The accidenT You may think you’re the world’s greatest driver (and maybe you are). Despite this, chances are good that you will meet someone “by accident” one day. So, what do you do if this happens? Specific legislation varies from country to country, but there are a couple of “rules of thumb” that apply the world over. If you do have an accident, your first priority is to check to see if anyone has been hurt. Then, you need to exchange your details with the driver of the other vehicle. “On a practical level being involved in an accident is a traumatic event. It is quite easy to forget your responsibilities and to act out of character,” comments Gary Ronald, public affairs manager, Automobile Association (AA) South Africa. “However it is very important to make sure that as the driver you obtain as much information from the driver of the other vehicle. Typically you would

need the other driver’s name and address, identity number, make of vehicle as well as the vehicle registration number.” Always keep a notebook and pen in your glove box, in order to record these details. Your mobile telephone is a really handy tool: you can use it to photograph the actual crash site. If you don’t have a camera, a simple sketch plan of the accident could prove to be invaluable – especially if a court case results from the collision. An important word of advice: while chatting to the other driver, stay calm (shouting or boxing never helps the situation). Always report the accident to police within 24 hours. The AA suggests that, if your vehicle needs to be towed to a panel beater or body repair shop, you should contact your insurer and be guided by them as to who to call to do the recovery and where to take the vehicle. Always obtain a reference number.

be guided by them as to who to call to do the recovery and where to
be guided by them as to who to call to do the recovery and where to
be guided by them as to who to call to do the recovery and where to
be guided by them as to who to call to do the recovery and where to

Two of the major causes of breakdowns are fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre. Never ever allow your fuel to run to below a quarter tank. And always ensure that your tyres are in good condition and properly inflated. “Wear and tear are the main culprits behind flat tyres and blowouts. When you fill up with fuel get into the habit of checking your tyre pressure and tread at the same time, and look to see if there is anything, such as a nail or piece of glass, which is sticking in the tread but hasn’t punctured the tyre yet,” Green Flag, a British provider of breakdown cover, advises. Oh and don’t forget to check the spare! Check the oil and tyre pressures on your car every time you refuel. Wash your car yourself once a month – and, while you’re at it, do a visual check on the general condition of your tyres and lights. Of course, even if you adhere to these precautions, you could still break down – a

mechanical item on your car could fail. You need to be properly prepared, so consider keeping some essential items in your car, including:

Charger for your mobile telephone

Blanket

Bottle of water

First aid kit

Torch

Map

Matches

Energy bars

Wet wipes

Money (a secret stash of cash in the boot)

Fire extinguisher

Reflective triangles

Jumper cables

Notebook and pen

Tyre bomb (tyre sealant canister)

• Jumper cables • Notebook and pen • Tyre bomb (tyre sealant canister) 80 First Gear

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Scenario number Three:

this mind,

 

Bearing Police

we asked

the tips

South

The TheFT

African

Service

for some

It happens every single day somewhere in the world: a car is stolen. It’s a

to

help minimise vehicle theft. The men

and women in uniform suggest the following:

horrible

feeling: emerging from the mall

only to find our much-loved

set of

Park in well-lit areas

wheels gone. But you can adopt some preventative measures to minimise the

Lock all the doors

windows are all closed

chances of your car

going missing.

 

and make sure the

Fit an alarm and

The first tip is the most obvious: lock

car doesn’t already

your car!

Incredibly, lots of people still

Fit locks to your wheels

don’t do this… with

disastrous

be stolen

immobiliser if your

have one

so they can’t

consequences! For instance, Princess Beatrice of England had her car stolen

Leave nothing

visible in your car

 

Be aware

of

your surroundings

at all

after she left the keys in

the ignition.

times

Locking your car won’t only minimise

Avoid stopping

in remote areas

the chances of it being stolen;

it will

also reduce the chance of

someone

If you live in a country

where vehicle

hiding in the back seat when you return.

theft is commonplace, a tracking

device

It’s a sad fact of life that,

in South

is a good idea.

Africa, vehicle

theft is commonplace.

 
       
     

from the car. Your life is more valuable than your possessions

Scenario number Four:

a lift

Even hijackinG

Never give strangers

The

the prospect of vehicle

with your route

scarier is

Become familiar

can involve

hijacking, because this

before you start the trip

Once again, we turned to

in your hand as

personal risk.

Have your keys ready

and girls in

if

your car, especially

boys

the South African

you approach

uniform for advice, and this is what

to find in your

they are difficult

they recommend:

handbag. It’s possible

you travel to work and

 
 

to buy a leash, your handbag

Vary the route

which is attached

to

your keys

back, if this is possible

it easy to locate

and makes

at

Parking lots with parking attendants

or

strangers are loitering near

If

alert

your driveway, drive past and

or supervision are best

company or police

leave enough

your security

traffic lights, always

At

or extortionists may

the car in

space between you and

Car hijackers

 

to entrap you.

front of you so you are never boxed in

minor accident

stage a

Be aware of this. If your car is

check around you

near home,

As you

from behind and you think

following you?

bumped

– any suspicious cars

to

the situation is suspicious, drive

in or is up

garage

into

your

turn

Only

the nearest police station for help

open,

the gate/door

once

driveway

fully. Do

cooperate

hijacked,

driving

another

car

If

are

prevent

you

to

valuables.

or

purse

for your behind

reach

blocking

you

not

and

behind

if forced

   

everything

Leave

 

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