Weekends are themselves a means to quench the thirst of long trips for bike and car lovers. What if there is a vacation? The thirst to drive becomes an insatiable hunger, which would get eradicated only on hearing the continuous vroom of the automobiles. With engines revving up and throttles roaring, here are a few tips for riders that would make the long drives more fruitful without any hiccups. Note that these are measures that need to be carried out at least five to seven days before the long drive so as to give complete effectiveness to the pleasure of the ride.
The things that are about to be discussed below may vary in priority depending upon the make, model and various other factors like last servicing, condition, handling, maneuvering, etc. But all of these tips, if followed, would lead up to unforgettable trip that could forever be etched in the albums of memory.
Fuel related issues:
The tank must be checked and filled to the brim always en route to a long ride, especially when the passage of travail is new to the rider. This applies especially to bikes, because there might be problems like the fuel not reaching the engine from the reservoir (the fuel tank). This improper supply of fuel to the engine might mostly due to the blocks in the passage leading to the engine, due to the accumulation of foreign particles like dirt and impurities. The passages must be cleaned so that the driver does not find himself/herself in the middle of the road in the hot burning sun with nobody to come to help (except for GoBumpr, if it is Chennai, maybe).
This might be caused due to fuel injector problems (considering the diesel engines) or spark plug issues (in case of petrol variants). This would cause improper mix of fuel and air to be injected into the chamber, thereby rendering the operation of the vehicle gradually ineffective, regarding the diesel engines; for petrol engines, this would create increased starting troubles.
In bikes, the spark plug issue can be managed for quite some time if the vehicle is facilitated with both kick-start and self-start. While self-start facilitates the quick ignition of an engine than the kick-starts, it does not play an effective role when the vehicle has not been operated for quite some time (say two to five days); this is because the engine slowly comes to the temperature of the surrounding environmental conditions, and it takes some time for it to regain the temperature required for ignition. So at this point, even with vehicles with self-starts, it is sensible to use kick-starts to get the engine heated. Though this takes relatively higher time for the vehicle to start, it provides an effective solution for a long ride.
One common mistake that most of the bikers do is pressing the self-start switches continuously for longer period, say 5 to 8 seconds. In reality, the button should never be pressed beyond 2 to 2.5 seconds because it just acts as a contact point to start the engine. Pressing it continuously has two main disadvantages. Firstly, the main functionality of a self-start is to initiate the engine, which means it loses its effectiveness beyond 2 seconds, after which it needs to be pressed again. Secondly, it would overwork the accessories that lead up to the engine, thereby reducing the lifetime of the switch.
Most of the riders would not mind this very much, but display comes as one of the notable points to be taken care of in both cars and bikes. Without the proper working of speedometer, the driver might tend to forget the gear at which the vehicle is running; this would eventually lead up to confusion, while coming to a halt.
The next accessory is the odometer. This is very much essential because one needs to keep track of the mileage of the vehicle and the distance covered consecutively between two successive fillings. This would also be an indicator to show if there is any regular maintenance checks required (for example, first servicing after driving 3,000 kilometers, etc.)
The accelerator, brake and clutch – the pulse of the vehicle – need to be checked for effective operation. In some cars, the pedals might become loosened up from their usual positions, thereby rendering them ineffective.
This problem is more prevalent in bikes where the clutch wires become slack and the clutch almost always remains in the half pressed position (technically referred to as the “off clutch” condition). The clutch is used to engage and disengage gears during the gear change, and it must either be fully pressed (during gear change) or not pressed at all (at top gears or constant speeds, called as cruising). This would spoil the gearbox in in the long run, causing jamming of gears.
Though this involves several components technically, the silencer is one accessory that requires a periodic check. Especially when long drives are on the cards, the silencers need to be cleaned up effectively so that the exhausts do not get clammed up there. Accumulation of solid exhausts would mean improper ejection of burnt gases, and when this problem builds up, the internal components get heated up, the vehicle might stop then and there, and in the worst case, there are possibilities of explosion.
The exhaust gases can also act as an indicator for the engine oil replacement; this can be understood better when thick black smoke comes out of the exhaust during throttling at neutral gear position. This would mean that the engine oil is dry and needs to be replaced soon. So before planning for long trips, keep track of the exhaust system, which usually does not seem important, also.
Engine oil is in the correct concentration during initial stages. But as the vehicle gets driven, the concentration gets marginally high and hence the lubricating properties usually come down with usage. The engine oil might change color from pale brown to a kind of brackish black. The degree of this black color decides the fate of the engine oil, and it all boils down to periodic replacement. So even if it is not due for an engine oil replacement, it is better to use new oils for long travels.
Though this replacement of engine oils would mean variation in the physical properties like the viscosity and fluidity, this is one important aspect to be done before a long travel.
Riders for long distances are the true metaphors of the saying, “Miles to go before I sleep.” But miles can be covered with smiles only with all the checkboxes ticked successfully.