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Top Gear Philippines


You casually look at the calendar on your smartphone and realize that it's been a week since you first took delivery of your four-wheeled pride and joy. In that time you've become more familiar with your faithful steed (particularly if you took the time to read the owner's manual). You know that you will keep no secrets from each other. You will get to know every nook and cranny, every scratch, swirl mark and stone chip.

Realizing that you want to be in a long relationship with your chosen one, you come up with a must-do list to ensure that you don't neglect "the one's" needs. This private ritual that you do every time you take to the road ensures that you don't miss out on anything that will help keep you two together for years to come.

1) The walk-around. As unnecessary as it may seem to some, doing the walk-around allows you to inspect the immediate area around your car for anything that may be out of place. This includes a soft or perhaps flat tire, leaking fluids, new door dings, bird poop, or the unwelcome nail that undesirable elements may have placed in the path of your tires. This gives you the opportunity to spot and rectify anything that may be out of order should you need to.

The most subtle way to do this is to take the "long way" to the driver's door. Ideally, you want to be approaching from the front passenger side and make your way around the rear of the car before entering. You can also approach from the passenger side rear. Either allows you to inconspicuously do your thing.

Do note that you're also watching out for any fluid leaks and such. While unusual for a newer car, you don't want to be driving with a leak, whatever it may be. Coolant and engine oil leaks will mean a dead engine in no time. Same goes for the transmission fluid. The one thing that you don't want to find out to be leaking is the brake fluid. No fluid, no brakes, and pretty soon no more pretty car.

2) Lock it. This is self-explanatory. Lock your doors as soon as you get into your car. While this doesn't quite count as a maintenance-oriented procedure, doing so lessens the risks of someone opening your door when you least expect it. It does however buy you a few extra seconds to act should someone suddenly try to gain access to you and your car.

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3) Buckle up. Never forget, the SRS in SRS Airbag stands for Supplemental Restraint System. What it means to you is that you should buckle up. Airbags don't deploy until certain crash parameters are met, nor will they be as effective if you're not wearing your seatbelt.

Seatbelts provide you the measure of safety that you'll be thankful for should you be in an accident; and it only takes one accident to make you regret not wearing your seatbelt. Hopefully, that never happens. Take note: Everyone in the rear seat needs to be buckled up as well.

4) Keep it clean and tidy. Avoid keeping anything inside unsecured, be it lying on the seats, on the rear deck, or on the floor. Anything inside the interior becomes a miniature missile should you need to brake hard. Try having the back of your hand be hit by that Kleenex box you left on the rear deck when it comes flying forward. You'll only be sore for the next couple hours, if you're lucky.

If you carry a bag, purse or knapsack, the best place for it to be is in the trunk. You don't need to access it when you're driving. The next best is on the floor in the passenger footwell. The location discourages would be thieves from attempting to break your glass and steal your stuff while you're in it stuck in traffic. That tissue box? Rear passenger floor behind the center console. Gluing some velcro on the bottom keeps it from moving around.

5) Cockpit once-over. A quick glance at the immediate area in the driver footwell watching out for objects that may have moved out of place. Floor mats, plastic bags, or maybe that water bottle that you forgot to take out yesterday. Set aside that water bottle, put away that plastic bag. Get that floormat in place before you drive off. Actually, replace it with one that doesn't move around. You don't want anything loose that may compromise your ability to work the pedals and potentially get you involved in an accident. That's a quick way to end things between you and car. 

 

Ferman Lao
Technical Editor
Wearing the hats of a race car driver, driving instructor, grease monkey, tuner, dyno operator, auto shop owner, motoring journalist and CAGI president at one time or another, or all at once, deep down he's just another guy who loves cars.
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