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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Test Your Ability on the Basics Part Two … The Answers!

Part Two

Here are the answers to yesterday’s Questionnaire...are you sitting comfortably?

1. Open the Bonnet/Hood?.. Usually the Bonnet or Hood release latch is under the dashboard to the extreme right or left. The new Ford Focus however has its release latch hidden inside the badge on the front of the Bonnet/Hood. This might be a trend for the future. I am not exactly sure what the advantage of this outside connection is, especially if you are unlucky enough to have to open it in the dark!

2. Identify all the Important equipment?....Are you training to be a Mechanic?...hardly but you will need to know the main equipment in order to answer the Questions correctly on your Driving Test. The reason for these questions is that all essential equipment needs to be identified correctly in an Emergency. These pieces of kit are oil level indicator (dipstick); coolant reservoir; brake fluid reservoir; screen wash reservoir; power steering fluid reservoir and for good measure the alternator drive belt.

3. Describe how to check the above?...Checks on this equipment basically refer to identifying their location and being able to assess maximum and minimum levels.

4. Tire Pressure?....A visual glance at a tire does not always give you the true picture. A tire can be 20% down in pressure and not give any clues. If a tire is visually down then it’s going to be as much as 75-80% deflated which means it’s in a highly dangerous state from a road –holding and ride perspective and is also likely to pick up a puncture very easily and wear out in a few days !

5. Three Tire checks?….Tire pressure/// Tread Depth/// Cuts splits and Bulges. Any of the latter evident means an immediate replacement of the tire as a blow out could be the result if you don’t.

6. Stop Sign?....A correct Legal stop is with the Fender/Bumper just behind the Stop Line and a stop is deemed to be valid after 2 to 3 seconds. A slow creep over the line followed by moving off is Not a Stop!

7. Handbrake?... It is not mandatory to use the Handbrake at a stop sign. The correct use of the handbrake is dependent on the time you will be stationary, while waiting for other traffic. Also the gradient of the road at your stopping point will determine whether or not you should use the Handbrake.

8. When not to Handbrake?...When you are only going to be stopped for 3-7 seconds approximately.

9. The Ten Second Rule?...If you are going to be stopped, anywhere, anytime, for any reason whatsoever for TEN seconds or more then you should apply the handbrake. This relaxes your feet and gets them off the pedals and clearly prevents the car from rolling either forwards or backwards.

10. Vehicle Ahead?...When stopping in normal traffic situations a useful guide is as follows—Tyres and Tarmac!—if you can’t see the tires of the vehicle ahead and some of the road then you are too close. In more extreme situations such as major Road works, Temporary Traffic Lights or Large Vehicles you should keep well back to see and be seen ; perhaps as much as two car lengths.

11. Three Steps to Improve Safety?...In heavy rain you should have dipped headlights on, your speed should be significantly reduced compared with normal driving conditions (perhaps 25 %); your distance from other vehicles, particularly large ones, should be increased by perhaps 300 to 400 %; maybe as much as six car lengths from your usual distance depending on the actual speed of the vehicles ahead. Your tire pressures should be checked if you are likely to encounter bad weather on your journey .tire pressures in any event should be checked weekly or every 500 miles(800kms)

12. Gear when Stopping?.. Preferably second gear…it is not necessary to down shift to first gear prior to your stop, although this might be useful if, when preparing to stop, the traffic moves off again and your speed has dropped below the second gear threshold. A smart assessment of the traffic’s progress will enable you to move off again smoothly in first gear as opposed to chugging or even stalling in second gear.

13. Blind Spot Check?...This should be over your shoulder when moving off from stationary, when changing lanes and when overtaking .Depending on which side of the road you are currently on your Blind spot can be on either the left or the right. Remember other road users can enter your space (your hidden space) in an instant and the rear view mirror check is not enough for complete safety.

14. Basic Checks?...These should be carried out weekly or every 500 miles(800 Kms)

15. Opposite Lock?...The turning of the Steering Wheel in the opposite direction to that which you are currently using. This technique is an essential component of successful reversing and will enable you to get out of insanely tight situations that other Drivers cannot cope with; and you will be able to complete your manoeuvre speedily and not take all day.

16. Stalling?.. Handbrake on –Footbrake off—into Neutral--- Foot off the Clutch……Then and only then do you reach for the ignition keys. On a Driving Test it is what you do After the Stall that counts, not he Stall per se.

17. Spare Bulbs?...Bulbs can go at any time, sometimes two in one day. They are inexpensive and rear bulbs, which control your Brake Lights, Indicators, Reversing Lights can be changed in a couple of minutes with practise. Front Bulbs and Headlight Bulbs are a very different story and mostly require the whole headlight assembly to be detached in order to replace them. This is extremely fiddly on most cars and best left to your Garage Mechanic who will be much more dextrous and get the job done in a fraction of the time. Carrying a full set of spare bulbs when travelling particularly long distances or abroad is an essential part of the Thinking Driver’s Emergency Kit.

18. Non Standard Configuration?...Roundabouts come in several different shapes and sizes. A Standard being a 4-exit Roundabout with each pair of exits opposite each other i.e. a straightforward crossroads with an Island in the middle. A non standard Roundabout Configuration could be either two (2) or three (3) exits and with the exits at unusual angles. Each type of Roundabout requires some different lane positioning and different signalling techniques.

19. Dashboard Warning Lights?...Firstly you should be able to identify the equipment that the light refers to without thinking and secondly you need to be able to bring the car to a halt within two hundred metres and park safely. If need be, in a busy or dangerous road situation take the car up onto the pavement or sidewalk to get it out of the way of passing traffic. This is the only time, I believe, that it is acceptable and sensible to mount the kerb. Stopping on the road creates a major hazard for all other drivers and of course you yourself as you are peering under the Hood/Bonnet to assess the problem. Do not ignore any Dashboard Warning Light... you do so at your Peril!

20. Brake Lights Check?. When you are on your own just take your short plank that is part of your kit for supporting the Jack in soft conditions and wedge it between the clutch or gas pedal touching the brake pedal. It doesn’t have to be that secure, just enough pressure to press lightly on the pedal to activate the brake lights. You can then visit the rear of the car to ensure all is well.


That’s it..Hope this has been of benefit to all of you reading this article and apologies to those of you who don’t possess a clutch pedal!

Astral Driving School Limerick.Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

Astral Driving School Blog …. “Arrive Alive”…

Astral Wordpress Blog……… ”Motorvating”

Hellhound on my Trail……. ”Our New Blues Blog”

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