0 Replies Latest reply on Oct 24, 2017 7:46 AM by Joseph Semuju

    The Art of Breakdown Automobile Assistance in East Africa

    Joseph Semuju

      Rwanda Assistance Automobile

      Who Rwanda Assistance Automobile are

      Rwanda Assistance Automobile is a breakdown assistance company based in Kigali, Rwanda, with aim to provide rapid breakdown assistance response to our customers – 24/7, 365 days a year. All aspects of breakdown assistance are handled in-house by its highly trained and experienced multilingual team: their humane approach and commitment to quality are in keeping with Rwandan values and principles.

      What Rwanda Assistance Automobile stands for

      Rwanda Assistance Automobile, we get the bigger picture. We never forget how important it is for our customers to get to where they want to be. That it’s their destination that really matters to them. That’s why we are always on hand to lend a hand whenever, wherever, and however our customers break down so long as it’s not a repeat of the same fault.

      What sets Rwanda Assistance Automobile apart?

      Value no matter what

      We know how important it is to give great value along with great service, which is why you’ll always get a good deal with Rwanda Assistance Automobile.

      Recover no matter what

      if your car can’t be repaired there and then, we’ll take it to a garage of your choice, or local garages.

      Motoring advice provided by Rwanda Assistance Automobile

      1. Road safety

       

      Never drink and drive or take drugs that impair driving

      You could kill someone '

      It really is that simple; drive when impaired by drink or drugs and you could kill someone. '

      Did you know some legal drugs have side effects? '

      This is explained on the label. Never take such drugs and drive. If in doubt, ask your doctor or chemist. It is against the law for your driving to be impaired even by legal drugs.

       

       

      How to improve your driving skills

      Driver training could save your life

      Passing a driving test is only the first step towards learning to drive safely. Many people go on to learn bad habits and forget what they were taught. It is possible to get further training that will make you a better, more alert driver who is able to spot signs of danger and better control their car. Here's how.

       

      Drive for work?

      If you drive a car, van, bus or lorry as part of your job, your employer has a duty to meet certain legal obligations and ensure you’re trained to carry out the type of driving you’ll encounter at work.

       

       

      How to drive safely at night

      Check your lights before driving

      ' + It’s a good idea to walk around your vehicle and check all the lights are working before you set off at night. And lights aren’t just for using at night; they should be used at dusk, dawn, in bad weather and on a gloomy day.

       

      Use dipped beam

      In urban areas make sure you use dipped beam. Use full beam on other roads at night but ‘dip, don't dazzle’ when there is someone in front or coming towards you. If you are being dazzled, slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary.

       

      Slow down when moving from a lit to an unlit road

      It takes time for your eyes to adjust to the conditions. At night it is harder to spot hazards and it is harder for others to spot you.

       

      Go more carefully

      Drive at a speed that enables you to stop within the distance you can see.

       

      Look out

      Keep your eyes open for pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders, particularly those who are not wearing bright clothing or do not have lights. In town environments, take extra care when driving past pubs, cinemas, theatres and clubs at closing time.

       

       

      How to be prepared for other road users

      Expect the unexpected

      Can you see around blind corners? Thought not, so adjust your speed and stopping distance accordingly. You should always be able to stop in the distance you can see.

       

      Give extra consideration to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders

      The risks to walkers or riders are far higher than those in vehicles. Some people, such as children or older people may not be aware of approaching traffic. Children may run across roads without looking. Drunken adults are equally likely to stagger onto the road at night.

       

      Give cyclists a wide berth

      Motorbike riders and cyclists are less visible than a car or van so double check for them. Look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, particularly when pulling out at a junction or changing lanes. Give plenty of room when passing them – ideally cross to the other side of the road. If it isn't safe to pass, hold back, be patient and wait until it is clear to pass with a wide berth.

       

      Drive within speed limits and weather limits

      The most important thing you can do, particularly within towns and rural areas, is to drive within the speed limit. The faster you go the less chance you have to avoid a collision. If the weather is poor adjust your speed and stopping distance accordingly.

       

      Keep looking at all times

      You should be aware of your surrounding environment at all times. Just like your driving instructor taught you: mirror, signal, manoeuvre. This means keeping an eye on traffic behind as well as in front.

       

       

      How to push a vehicle safely

      When a car breaks down and is stationary in the middle of the road, it’s a natural instinct for drivers to want to get out and push it towards the kerb. But this can be dangerous. The first course of action should be to alert other drivers to potential danger, so switch on the vehicle’s hazard warning lights.

      Weigh up the relative risks between:

      • leaving the car where it is and staying in it
      • leaving it where it is and getting out
      • pushing it off the road

      For national Rwanda Assistance Automobile breakdown assistance, call 0782330499

       

      Be safe, be seen

      All drivers should keep a high visibility jacket in the front of their car. That way, if the vehicle shudders to a stop and they feel they have to get out, other drivers will see them more clearly.

      Should it be relatively safe to push a vehicle to a point of safety, put the gearbox into neutral and make sure nobody stands between the vehicle and oncoming traffic, or obscures the hazard warning lights?

       

      You need at least two people to push a car

      Enlist the help of others: one person should sit in the driver's seat to control the steering and brakes as the others push. Don’t let the vehicle build up too much momentum as the brakes and steering will be less effective with the engine off - this is because they work using power assisted systems. Never try to push a car uphill; the consequences could be disastrous.

      If you need breakdown assistance, Rwanda Assistance Automobile offers wide range of assistance cover that even covers putting the wrong fuel in your car.

       

       

      Seatbelts: the safest option

      Putting a seatbelt on is one of the first things we do when we get in a car. It's a vital safety precaution: the Department for Transport says that people not wearing a seatbelt are twice as likely to be killed in an accident as those that do buckle up.

       

      A minority won’t belt up

      Despite the culture change that's seen seatbelts become the norm, around 45 per cent of people still don't wear them, the Department for Transport says, typically when making a short trip.

      As well as increasing risk on the road, anyone caught not wearing a seatbelt faces a fine.

       

       

      How to drive at the appropriate speed

      Limit your speed - limit the risk

      Not being able to stop in time is the biggest cause of death on Britain’s roads. One in three deaths could have been avoided if the driver had been going slower in towns or on rural roads.

       

      In town: drive at 30 kmph

      In urban areas where cars mix with motorbikes, pedestrians and cyclists, drive at 30 kmph. At 30 kmph a pedestrian hit by a car stands a 90 per cent chance of surviving. At 50kmph they stand a 90 per cent chance of dying.

       

      Out of town: observe the speed limits

      At all times, on all roads, drive well within the limits. Keep a watchful eye on the signed limits and your speedo, and check speed when going down hills. It’s easier to maintain a steady speed by using a lower gear, such as third gear at 50kmph, or fourth at 60kmph.

       

      Ensure you can stop in the distance you can see

      Ensure you have time to slow or stop for the unexpected. Nothing happens ‘suddenly’ to good drivers. Keep your distance, slow for a hazard and plan an escape route if you suddenly find the route blocked – perhaps by another driver pulling out at a T-junction without seeing you.

       

      Never rush – ring ahead

      Running late? That’s no excuse to break the speed limit. Stop and call ahead to let the relevant people know you’ll be late.

       

      Don’t kid yourself

      So, you think you’re pretty handy at the wheel? Well, keep your skills for speed to the race track and concentrate on remaining focussed and disciplined at all times.

       

      Don’t go with the flow

      Do not allow others to influence you to go faster. Slow down and let them overtake in a safe place.

       

       

      How to stay awake and stay safe when driving

      Believe the signs on the motorway - tiredness kills

      Tiredness is responsible for accidents on roads. So why do so many drivers – especially men under the age of 30 - push themselves to the point where they fall asleep while driving?

       

      Get an early night

      Never consider a long drive if tired. Be strict with yourself and get a good night's sleep the night before.

       

      Avoid early morning driving

      Research shows that you are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel between 2am and 6am. It is also common to feel sleepy in the early afternoon. After a big lunch, take a 15-minute stroll to perk yourself up.

       

      Take regular breaks on a long drive

      Make sure you stop every two hours for at least 15 minutes. If you feel sleepy when you stop, have at least a 10-minute snooze, and set your phone’s alarm clock to wake you up. Taking a brisk stroll is also helpful.

       

      The signs of sleepiness

      There are some obvious signs - heavy eyelids, nodding head, waves of tiredness and not being able to concentrate. Stop somewhere safe and take a break. A caffeine drink followed by a short nap will ensure you wake up feeling fully refreshed. Never push yourself until you experience these symptoms. Sleep follows more quickly than you think.

       

       

      How to keep your tyres in safe condition

      Your tyres are your car's point of contact with the road so it is vital they are in good order. Worn, over-inflated or under-inflated tyres can be dangerous and lead to accidents.

       

      Check tyre tread

      Tyre treads are designed to provide grip on wet roads. If the tread is worn then your vehicle may skid across the road surface. Although the legal minimum tread limit is 1.6mm, it is recommended that tyres should be replaced as soon as the tread reaches 3mm.

      Tyre tread depth gauges are cheap and widely available. Alternatively, it’s possible to use a 100 FRW coin; if the outer band on the coin is visible when placing the coin in the groove between the treads, it means they’ve worn too low and the tyres need replacing.

      Tyres also have their own built-in tread wear indicators. These are small blocks of rubber in-between the tread blocks. If you find that your treads are level with these little blocks, your tyres need replacing.

       

      Check tyre pressure

      Tyres should be correctly inflated according to your vehicle's handbook. Remember that the pressure will need to be increased when the car’s fully laden

      As well as affecting your car's handling and braking performance, over- or under-inflated tyres will reduce their lifespan. Under-inflated tyres will also reduce the fuel efficiency of your car.

      It’s a good idea to check tyre pressures as often as you fill your car with fuel. However, bearing in mind that most garages now charge for use of a tyre pressure gauge

       

       

       

      2. Driving advice

       

      How to deal with aquaplaning

      Heavy rain and surface water can cause aquaplaning. This is when the tread of the tyres can’t disperse the wet quickly enough so the car ‘floats’ on a layer of water, taking control away from the driver.

      As soon as you feel you’re losing control, don’t panic. Keep your driving inputs smooth and to a minimum. Don’t hit the brakes: this will cause you to skid uncontrollably. Don’t adjust the steering either: when the tyres grip tarmac again this will cause you to spear off uncontrollably, possibly in a direction you don’t want to go in. Keep the steering following the road and allow the car to slow down naturally by easing your foot off the accelerator.

      If you can, avoid aquaplaning altogether by concentrating on the road ahead and seeing the danger in advance. Slowing down before you hit the standing water will give your tyres a better chance of dispersing it.

       

       

      Be Prepared

      It’s impossible to anticipate every eventuality on the road, but there are some steps you can take to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for any situation you might encounter.

       

      All year round

      A cluttered car will make things difficult to find and could lead to items rolling under the pedals and posing a safety threat. However, you should carry the following:

       

      Mobile phone:

      The majority of people carry these without thinking now and they really can help get you out of a tricky situation

       

      Torch:

      Make sure it works. If you can download a torch app for your mobile phone that makes the perfect back-up

       

      Tow rope:

      You never know when one of these might be invaluable, whether it’s for you to tow another car or someone to tow you

       

      Summer Fluids:

      Make sure you don’t get dehydrated on hot days

       

      Hat:

      In an open top car on a sunny day, heat stroke is a real risk

       

       

      Breakdown What To Do

      You can rarely predict when your car is going to break down. But a bit of planning can make even the most unexpected car failure a more straightforward and less stressful experience.
      Breaking down on quieter roads in towns and cities can still be dangerous. Follow these steps to stay as safe as possible.

       

      Pull over to a safe place:

      Find somewhere away from the traffic flow to park your car

       

      Turn on your hazard lights:

      If it is dark or if visibility is poor, leave your sidelights on too

       

      Use your red warning triangle:

      Place this at least 50 metres behind the car to warn any oncoming traffic that your car is broken down

       

      Call for assistance:

      Find the nearest telephone or use a mobile phone to call for help

       

      Stay in your car and wait for help to arrive:

      Assuming your car is safely parked it’s safer to wait in the car. You might feel safer locking the doors if you don’t know the area you’re in

       

       

      In-car gadgets drive drivers to distraction

      Whether it’s fiddling with sat MP3 players or smart phones, there are numerous in-car temptations to draw drivers’ eyes away from the road. And that’s without taking account of any excited kids who might be in the back!
      Using a hand-held mobile phone in the car is illegal. Being caught means an automatic fixed penalty notice and a 10000 FRW fine.
      You can use hands-free devices legally although research shows a driver’s reaction time is slowed and the Department for Transport advises against making a hands-free call. Changing the audio system can be equally distracting so it’s safer to pull over if you need to do this during your journey.

       

      Are you sitting comfortably?

      A simple way of ensuring a comfortable journey is to make sure you’re wearing the right clothes. Loose clothes will allow you to sit more comfortably in the seat. For kids, layers are the way forwards so they can keep cool or wrap up as required.

       

      Give yourself a break

      The longer you drive for, the less alert you’re likely to feel, so take a break every couple of hours and particularly if you start to become drowsy. If you do feel sleepy, have a cup of coffee and a nap. Ten minutes with your eyes shut will allow the caffeine to kick in and you’ll wake up refreshed, alert, and ready to carry on. Alternatively, do some stretching exercises to get the blood flowing round your body again.

      Before setting off

      • Do not drink alcohol heavily the night before
      • Check that any medication you are taking doesn’t cause drowsiness
      • Never set off if you feel tired, dizzy or unwell

      If you feel tired but can’t stop

      • Turn the sound system on or change what you’re listening to
      • If you’re listening to music, try singing along (passengers will have no excuse to tell you to stop, too)
      • Wind down the window or reduce the temperature inside the car
      • Sit upright
      • Look around you as much as you can safely

       

      Snack happy

      Take plenty of snacks and drinks on a family journey. Make sure the drinks have screw tops rather than cans or cartons, which cause storage problems if left unfinished and toilet problems if consumed all at once.

       

      Motion sickness

      Travel sickness occurs when you can’t see yourself moving, only feel it. For children who are prone to travel sickness, try to limit activities where the eyes are focused inside the car, such as reading and playing hand-held games. Listening to books or music enables children to look around while they’re being entertained. Travel sickness wrist bands may help.

       

      Tips for dealing with kids

      Keeping kids entertained is the key to a hassle-free family trip. Also, there’s a huge variety of games suited to all kinds of mobile devices. It just takes a bit of research to find and buy the best ones for your journey.

      If you want something that occupies all the family, try audiobooks. You download them in advance and a good one will keep the car quiet for hours. There are also various games that will involve all the family. Try the following:

       

      I went to the shop and I bought...:

      Starting with the letter A, and working through the alphabet, each player has to add an item to the shopping list and memorise the whole list until they reach Z.

       

      Think of a number:

      One player chooses a number, and then gives the other players clues to help them work out what number they’re thinking of. For example: ‘If I subtract 25 and add 16, I get 41, what number am I thinking of?” (Answer: 50).

       

      Who am I?:

      One player thinks of a famous person, then the rest of the players have to take turns asking questions with yes or no answers to identify the person they are thinking of. The player who guesses the identity of the person correctly wins that round and gets to choose the next famous name

       

       

      How to stay awake when driving

      If you find yourself fighting off drowsiness by opening a window or turning up the radio, a warning light should start flashing in your head. It means you are tired and the only sensible thing to do is to stop and take a short break.

       

      Get an early night

      Never consider a long drive if you’re tired. Be strict with yourself and get a good night's sleep the night before.

       

      Avoid early morning driving

      Research shows that you are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel between 2am and 6am. It is also common to feel sleepy in the early afternoon, between 2 and 4pm. Following a big lunch, take a 15-minute stroll to perk yourself up.

       

      Take regular breaks on a long drive

      Make sure you stop every two hours for at least 15 minutes. If you feel sleepy when you stop, have a 10-minute snooze, and set your phone’s alarm clock to wake you up. Taking a brisk stroll is also helpful.

       

      The signs of sleepiness

      There are some obvious signs - heavy eyelids, nodding head, waves of tiredness and not being able to concentrate. Stop somewhere safe and take a break. Never push yourself until you experience the above symptoms. Sleep follows more quickly than you think.

       

      Micro-sleeps

      These are potentially fatal dozes that last between two and 30 seconds. They normally occur when you are tired but trying to stay awake. Don't let them sneak up on you when you are driving. If you find yourself yawning and struggling to keep your eyes open, then stop driving. As the adage goes, it is better to arrive late than never.

       

      If you have to carry on driving

      Drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink. Doze for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to start working, and then continue on your way.

       

       

      Fuel economy

      Improve your fuel economy

      Take a look at our simple tips to help cut those fuel costs.

       

      Slow down

      Keeping your speed down can reduce the fuel consumption of the engine. It goes without saying that we should all stick to the speed limit, but your car's handbook will tell you what the most fuel-efficient in-town and out-of-town speed is for you.

       

      Lose weight

      Avoid carrying any unnecessary weight in the car as heavy loads put more strain on the vehicle, leading to higher fuel consumption.

       

      Find the shortest route

      Taking the trouble to find the shortest route to your destination can make the journey more economical.

       

      Cut the air con

      Running the air conditioning increases the car's fuel consumption. So, if you want to save fuel and money, keep it to a minimum.

       

      Close the windows

      Open windows and sunroofs create drag, which means that you won't travel as far per litre of fuel.

       

      Share journeys

      By sharing journeys with friends and colleagues the overall fuel consumption can be reduced.

       

      Multi-tasking saves money

      One long trip is more fuel-efficient than several short ones, as a cold engine uses more fuel than a warmed up one.

       

      Check your pressure

      Checking tyre pressure regularly not only improves the safety and performance of the tyres, it also keeps the car running at the optimum fuel efficiency.

       

      Smoothly does it

      Try to drive as smoothly as possible and maintain a steady speed. Braking and then accelerating regularly will reduce the number of kms per litre the car can clock up. It's easier to drive smoothly, and also much safer. Aim to keep a gap of at least two seconds from the car in front of you.

       

      Give the car a break

      Stuck in heavy traffic or waiting for passengers? Turn off the engine to avoid wasting fuel.

       

      Stay tuned

      Have your car's engine tuned at a reputable local garage. This way you can make sure it’s always running at the optimum fuel usage level.

       

      Check the oil

      As well as maintaining the correct levels of oil, if you want to save money on fuel you should also check the type of oil used. Some energy-efficient types can increase the number of miles per litre.

       

      It pays to be green

      Improving your car's fuel efficiency can minimise the damage it causes to the environment. You see, burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. By following our tips you can save money and protect the environment at the same time.

       

       

      How to load your car

      To ensure the driver can see out of the back window, try to avoid packing above the line of the seat backs. As well as obscuring the view, anything packed higher than that is at risk of flying forwards in a crash (or after sudden or emergency breaking) and hitting someone on the head. If your boot is just too small, consider using a roof rack or roof box.

       

      Roof racks

      A great way of carrying large or awkward items is on a roof rack. You should use one that’s suited to your car, and before fitting, check your car’s maximum permitted roof load in the hand book and don’t forget to include the weight of the rack.

      If you are just using a roof rack, make sure whatever is fitted is securely attached and doesn’t stick out dangerously at either side, or to the front or back. Once you start driving, the airflow will try to lift up the front of the load on your roof, so make sure you take that into account with extra bindings.

      It is possible the fixings will work loose over the course of a long journey, so stop and check them regularly. Also, don't forget about the roof rack when you drive under low signs or entering covered car parks, particularly if your car is already tall like a people carrier or SUV.

       

      Packing the boot

      Make sure things are secure so items don't slide around every time you brake or turn a corner. Pack heavier and larger items first. Not only will this make it easier to fit everything in, but putting the heaviest stuff at the bottom will also help to keep the car's centre of gravity lower, which will minimise the impact of the load on the car's handling.

      Really heavy items in the boot should be pushed up against the rear seats. This avoids the car being too heavy at the back, which could affect the steering, and it also means there is less chance of momentum making them burst into the passenger compartment if you have an accident.

      Don't forget your passengers' comfort. Install child seats first as it may be more difficult once you've packed in everything else. It is generally good advice to leave plenty of room for children as squeezing stuff in tight around them is likely to make them restless during the journey.

       

      Need to get to the spare wheel?

      When you are packing, consider the possibility that you may get a puncture during the journey. Think about how you will get to the spare wheel in an emergency. Using a small number of bags for your belongings rather than throwing everything in loose, for example, will save you a lot of hassle when you have to unload in the dark at the side of a road.

      If you are packing a heavy load, check your car's handbook to see if you need to adjust the tyre pressures. If you do, remember to adjust them again after the trip. Your car's handling and performance will be affected by a heavy load, and stopping distances will be increased, so drive with added caution and allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front.

       

       

      Mobile phone safety

      It’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Anyone caught doing so will be fined 10000FRW.
      Hands-free mobile use is permitted but the police can still stop drivers if they’re talking on the phone and it appears they’re driving without due care and attention.

      Use it safely

      • Ideally keep your phone on voicemail when driving
      • If you need to make a call, or check your messages, stop in a safe place and switch off your engine
      • If you feel you really must make or receive phone calls, ensure your phone is paired with your car’s Bluetooth system, use an after-market hands-free kit or a Bluetooth headset, but still keep your conversation brief
      • Tell the person calling you that you are driving so they understand your need to concentrate
      • Avoid long complex conversations. Instead, tell the person you will call back when you have parked safely
      • Remember, it is an offence for employers to encourage motorists to use their mobile phones when driving, so do not feel obliged to answer or make work-related phone calls while driving

       

       

      The cost of motoring offences

      Motoring law is designed to cut the risk of accidents. It makes sense to stick to the rules for safety reasons, but aside from the danger, bad driving can cost you dearly.

      Road traffic offences can vary from the very serious – such as causing death by dangerous driving which can result in a prison sentence – to the very minor such as parking for too long which will incur a fine.

      Careless Driving

      It might sound like a new offence but Careless Driving is actually Driving without due care and attention by another name. It is currently punishable in several ways.

      More serious apparent Careless Driving offences will be summonsed to appear in court.

      The prosecution will only succeed if it can prove that your driving fell below the standard expected of a competent driver or that you didn’t show reasonable consideration for other pedestrians or road users.

      The much more serious offence of Dangerous Driving can lead to a custodial sentence.

      Don't do this at the wheel

      Careless Driving can entail anything from tailgating and overtaking on the inside lane to handbrake turns and wheel spins.

      Some of these might sound petty but research has found that 22 per cent of crashes could be caused by driver distraction. Experts have also found that 98 per cent of drivers are unable to divide their attention while at the wheel without deterioration in their driving performance. One study found that eating when it involves a driver unwrapping food on the go slows reactions by 44 per cent, which is more than texting.

       

       

      Driving at night

      Driving after dark obviously means reduced visibility which can combine with tiredness to make driving more dangerous.
      To reduce the risk of being involved in an accident, make sure you plan your journey carefully in advance. If you are going with other people who can legally drive, consider sharing the driving. Ensure that you and any other drivers are well rested before you set off, and plan for rest breaks every two hours or so.

       

      Be clean and efficient

      Before you set off on a night-time journey, make sure your front and rear lights are in full working order and give them a clean. Dirty headlights can reduce efficiency by as much as 90 per cent.

      Dirty or greasy windows can make it more difficult to see while driving at night. Clean your windscreen inside and out and clean your wiper blades with a tissue dipped in screenwash concentrate.

      At night, your vision can be severely limited as you lose the advantage of colour and contrast that is available during the day, while depth perception and peripheral vision are also diminished.

      This drop in visibility can lead to things suddenly appearing out of nowhere, so be prepared for the unexpected and drive slower than you would in the day to give you time to react to sudden hazards.

       

      Dazzling lights

      If you find the lights from oncoming cars dazzling, instead of looking straight ahead, look slightly towards the right-hand side of the road and watch the white line marking the outside edge of the traffic lane, if there is one.

       

      Out of town

      Unlit country roads are likely to be narrow, winding and have no footpath. While the darkness can actually make it easier to spot cars approaching on these roads as their lights will be visible for a good distance, be prepared to suddenly encounter wildlife and pedestrians on the road.

       

      Dusk and dawn danger

      Twilight and dawn are also dangerous times for driving as you may think you can see more in the half-light than you actually can. To make sure other people can see you, turn your headlights on one hour before sunset, and keep them on for one hour after the sun comes up.

      Before you set off on a night-time drive, make sure you and your car are in good condition. Plan ahead, slow down and expect the unexpected. And make sure that you have adequate breakdown cover in place before setting out on any journey.

       

       

      Car security

      Lock it or lose it

      Although hugely improved car security has seen crime against vehicles falling, it still happens. However, crimes tend to be more opportunists now with vehicles snatched when they’re unattended but the keys left in them; the keys themselves stolen; or property lifted from parked cars.

       

      On the move, on your guard

      • Make life as difficult as possible for opportunist thieves. Tuck valuables out of sight
      • Keep the doors locked and windows closed to deter a thief from snatching something at traffic lights or in crawling traffic
      • Keep the boot-lid or tailgate permanently locked

      Play safe when you park

      • Always remove the ignition key, even when only leaving the car for a minute
      • Take the key with you and leave the doors locked when you go to pay at a filling station
      • If you're going out of sight of the car, lock it and use any auxiliary anti-theft devices you have. Never leave windows or the sunroof open, or if it’s a convertible, the roof down
      • Keep valuables locked in the boot or better still take them with you. If you need to leave them in the car, have them locked away before you park, in case the car park is being watched
      • Carry your mobile phone with you. A large proportion of car break-ins are to steal these
      • Never leave credit cards, cash or coins on show. CDs and sunglasses are also targets for car criminals
      • When parking at night, choose somewhere well-lit and preferably busy. Avoid dark, deserted places
      • In a multi-storey car park, try to find a space near an exit, well-lit and not concealed by a pillar
      • When parking in any car park, never leave the ticket in the car unless it is pay-and-display

      Minimise the risk

      • When returning to the car, have your keys at the ready to open it immediately
      • Don't leave any clues visible to indicate that the driver is a woman
      • Women should never leave a handbag in the car when they’re out of it

      Make it tough for thieves

      • Ensure security features are a priority when you buy a car. The majority now come equipped with immobilisers as standard. If they don’t have an alarm, consider having one fitted
      • For cars that are valuable or you’re emotionally attached to, consider fitting an anti-theft tracking device. These will alert the driver that the car has been stolen within a matter of minutes, and can help police find it

       

       

      What to do after an accident

      • Witnessing an accident can be upsetting, but you should try to stay calm. Avoid panicking and potentially causing another accident by running across the road to help.
      • If you’re in your own car, use your hazard lights to warn approaching traffic of an incident.
      • Your first priority should be to check if anyone is injured and if so call 113 for Police or an ambulance. Be aware that someone who is screaming may actually be less badly hurt than someone who is quiet or moaning.
      • Let the 113 operators know the extent of any injuries. Stay at the scene as the emergency services may rely on you to let them know the location of the accident.
      • The people involved in the accident may ask you to give an impartial witness account of what happened. If you do this, make sure you take notes and/or photos of the accident.
      • You aren’t obliged by law to give a witness account. However, if you don’t, the police may ask you instead to give a witness statement.
      • All cars involved in an accident are required to stop - regardless of who was to blame - so they can exchange details for insurance purposes. This is even more pressing if someone is injured in the accident. So if you see someone driving away from the scene, make a note of his or her registration plate number.
      • Don't attempt to move anyone who is injured unless the emergency services have advised so, but make sure they’re reasonably comfortable. Cover the injured person in a blanket until the emergency services arrive. Keep them warm, particularly as they're likely to be shocked.
      • If you know first aid and you can see how it could help, apply it to any casualties before the emergency services arrive. Limit bleeding by applying force to the wound and raising up the injured part as much as is possible.
      • Bear in mind it’s illegal to move any car involved in the accident or any debris from the scene. Leave things as they are, even if they’re blocking the road to other drivers.
      • And, finally, avoid smoking, as there may be a petrol spillage.

       

       

      Managing stress

      Road rage

      Whether it’s ‘creative’ hand gestures, flashing head lamps or honking horns, most of us have been victim to road rage in one of its many forms. If possible you want to avoid it altogether but it helps to know how to manage a situation too.

      Avoiding trouble

      • Keep your own stress level low by allowing plenty of time for your journey and ensuring you know where you are going
      • Be polite and courteous, even when other drivers behave unreasonably
      • If you see someone driving badly, don’t react to it and don’t take it personally. We all make mistakes on occasion
      • If a driver is tailgating you and desperate to get past, let them pass as soon as it’s safe
      • Avoid confrontation. Stay calm, don't allow yourself to be provoked or answer back
      • If you make an error of judgement, wave an apology to placate the other driver
      • Drive with your doors locked
      • Keep the sunroof and windows closed if you're forced to move slowly in areas where you feel uncomfortable
      • Never give lifts to strangers

      Dealing with it

      • Be prepared for the worst but hope for the best. Be ready for rudeness or aggression from other drivers
      • If you feel threatened, remember that your primary aim is to defuse any awkward situation and get away
      • If another car pulls up alongside or harasses you, avoid eye contact
      • How much do you know about a driver who is verbally abusing you? Probably nothing. You have no idea what kind of a day they’re having, whether they have a weapon, or if they have deep-rooted psychological problems. The best thing is to have no contact with them at all
      • If you have to stop, stay in the car with the doors locked and engine running, ready to drive off
      • If you are followed, drive on carefully to the nearest police station or a busy place such as a garage forecourt
      • Use the horn and hazard warning lights to attract attention
      • If you have a mobile phone, call the police for help
      • Memorise the registration number of the other car, its make and colour, and anything you can about the driver's description

      Attitude

      • Try never to feel hurried or pressurised as you start a drive
      • Beware of arguments before driving. If you quarrel with someone, allow a few minutes to cool down before setting off
      • Don't allow yourself to be preoccupied with something else when you're driving.

      Health

      • Try to avoid driving if you feel unwell or distracted for any reason
      • Don't drink even a small amount of alcohol before driving
      • When taking any medication, whether it’s prescription or over-the-counter, check with the doctor or pharmacist about whether they might cause problems with driving

       

      Safe to drive

      Your state of mind is a vital element in safe driving. To drive safely you should be calm, relaxed and alert.

       

      Helping others

      If you observe someone else being harassed, don't be tempted to assist on your own. Call the police from your mobile phone if you can.

       

       

       

      3. Maintenance

       

      Most common breakdown causes

      Cars are immensely complicated devices combining sophisticated mechanical and electronic components. There’s a lot that can go wrong; here are the most common causes of breakdown.

       

      Battery

      A flat or faulty battery is the number one cause of vehicle breakdowns. It’s usually signalled by either complete silence or the starter motor sounding as if it’s about to grind to a halt. This is caused by a lack of sufficient current for it to turn the engine over.

       

      Warning signs

      The engine starts to turn over more slowly than usual. The red battery light in the instrument display may flicker when you’re driving, or take longer than usual to go out after you’ve started the engine.

       

      Alternator

      The battery might power the car’s electrical components such as lights, windscreen wipers and sound system but the alternator uses energy from the engine to keep the battery charged. If it fails your battery will run out of charge, even if it’s brand new.

       

      Warning signs

      Unfortunately there is no way to maintain an alternator, but warning signs to look out for include a flickering battery warning light, dimmed headlamps and dashboard lights, as well as slower than usual windscreen wipers.

       

      Starter motor

      Typically, faults with a starter motor only present themselves when it fails to start the engine. Regular maintenance checks can help to prevent any problems with your starter motor.

       

      Tyres

      Never hit the road without a serviceable spare wheel or a temporary puncture repair kit in the car. While tyre failure is generally caused by debris in the road, it can often be prevented. A prime cause of tyre failure is under-inflation which causes tyres to overheat. Ensure that you check your vehicle's tyre pressure and tread condition as often as you fill the car with fuel. If one tyre regularly needs air it either has a slow puncture or a problem with the valve. You should get it inspected.

       

      Electrical

      As cars get more complex, electrical problems become more common. They can lead to strange behaviour; they’re frequently difficult to diagnose and hard to fix at the road side. Sometimes they can be rectified by simply turning the car off and back on again, as you might a computer. Unusual symptoms need checking out before they cause a breakdown.

       

      Warning signs

      Systems powered by the electrical system can start behaving erratically.

       

       

      Choosing a garage for your car repairs

      Taking your car in for a repair can be daunting. Make sure you don't get stung with our top tips to choosing the right garage.

      • Shop around -Tell the mechanic you just want a quote. You'll be able to compare prices and also, the garage is less likely to overcharge you if they think they could lose your business to a rival firm.
      • Get a recommendation - Ask your family and friends if they know of a good garage. Agree the work up front - Ask the garage to contact you for permission if they want to carry out work you didn't agree to beforehand. It's a good idea to agree a cost too or at least a maximum amount.
      • Agree the work up front - Ask the garage to contact you for permission if they want to carry out work you didn't agree to beforehand. It's a good idea to agree a cost too or at least a maximum amount.
      • Check if they'll give you a guarantee - Some garages will provide a warranty on their work so you can come back if anything goes wrong.
      • Ask for a detailed invoice - This will make it easier to spot and discuss anything you didn't agree to.

      A good garage should have no problem with you asking questions. If they’re hostile towards you, or you're unhappy with the cost, don't be afraid to go somewhere else.
      If you find a good garage, stick with it. And spread the word to friends and family.

       

       

      How to prepare your car for an VEHICLE INSPECTION

      Every car needs an annual vehicle inspection to ensure it is roadworthy. If your car fails the test, it must be repaired to conform to the standards. A lot of these checks are very basic so even if you don’t know much about cars it is possible to do a pre- vehicle impaction check to minimise the inconvenience of a failure.

       

      General

      Turn on the ignition and make sure:

      • The horn is working
      • The windscreen washers and wipers are working
      • The screen wash is topped up
      • The rubber blades on the windscreen wipers don’t have any chunks missing from the wiping edge or loose strips. If they do, replacements are easy to source from motor retailers and simple to fit
      • The seat belts must work properly and not be frayed or cut
      • The mountings must be secure and the belts should be free from damage as well as engaging and disengaging cleanly
      • Pull sharply on the belt and the inertia reel should lock

      TyresWalk round the vehicle and inspect the tyres. Make sure:

      • There are no bulges or cuts on the sidewalls or objects stuck in the tread
      • The tread is at least 1.6mm deep. You can use a tread depth gauge if you have one. Put this in the grooves that run round the tyre. If the rim round the edge of the coin stands proud, the tyres need replacing
      • Check that each tyre matches the opposite on the same axle for size and construction type
      • If the car has a spare tyre, this must be road-legal as well

      LightsLighting is one of the most frequent failure points. Check:

      • All exterior bulbs are working
      • Each light’s lens is free of cracks or damage
      • Headlights (both dipped and main beam), front and rear side lights, stop lights, reversing lights, front and rear fog lights and all indicators plus number plate lights

      BodyworkThere should be no sharp edges to injure pedestrians, bumpers should be secure and you must be able to access the car through all the doors and open them from both inside and outsideBrakesAlthough it’s impossible to check the brakes accurately without specialist equipment there are some things you can do:

      • Look beneath the bonnet and make sure the fluid level in the brake system’s reservoir is between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ indicators. For details on where to find it, check your car’s handbook
      • Pull the handbrake on. If you have to pull the lever up too far through lots of clicking, advise the tester the cable probably needs adjusting
      • Likewise, if the handbrake can be released by tapping on the lever, it will need tightening

      SteeringAs with the brakes, it’s difficult to check the steering without specialist equipment:

      • Your steering wheel should be fairly tight on the column. If it's loose or there are abnormal movements when you turn, there could be wear in the column support
      • Listen for knocks when turning the steering wheel from full lock to full lock, or excessive whining from the power steering pump, both of which could indicate worn components

      Shock absorbersShock absorbers or dampers can’t have any leaks or difference in absorbing pressure. Get a rough idea if your car’s shock absorbers are faulty by bouncing each corner of the vehicle. The vehicle should go down under pressure then rise back up to full height before settling down slightly. Excessive bouncing indicates faulty or worn out dampers.Windscreen and mirrorsSmall stone chips in your windscreen won’t necessarily mean failure but:

      • The entire area swept by the wipers should have no cracks or chips
      • Damage outside this area must be no bigger than 10mm in diameter
      • Mirrors should be securely fixed and the glass in good condition

      Exhaust

      • The exhaust must be secure and free from corrosion
      • Rev the engine with the car stationary, parking brake on and doors open. Any rattles or unusual noises could indicate it’s on its way out
      • Any smoke and your car could fail the emissions part of the test

       

       

      Changing your car's oil

       

      Changing the oil is a vital part of car maintenance. It needs to be done every six months or every 6,000 miles – whichever one comes first.
      Leaving dirty oil in your car can damage your engine. So it's important you make sure you change it regularly. But if you don't fancy getting your hands dirty, it might be a good idea to leave it to the experts.

       

      The steps

       

      Here are the basic steps you'll need to take:

      • Raise the car up on a jack using axle stands to support it
      • Open the sump plug and let the old oil drain out
      • Once it's fully drained, pour in the new oil
      • Be careful of hot oil!

      Disposing of the old oil

      Once you've changed the oil, you'll need to get rid of the old oil. Don't pour it away down the sink, or in the garden – it can block your drains or pollute the soil.
      Take it to your local garage where it can be disposed of properly.

      Car maintenance tips for all drivers

      Avoiding problems
      Neglect almost inevitably leads to breakdown. That’s why drivers should always stick to a car’s service schedule. And while routine maintenance is boring, it is the best way to steer clear of trouble. Anyone can learn to carry out basic checks, simply by reading through a car’s handbook. It may contain a lot of information but is designed to be easily accessible to non-technically minded owners. Here are some simple steps drivers can take to maintain their car.
      On a daily basis
      Be alert for any sign of change. If, for example, the engine seems to be running a little less smoothly, the brakes seem less positive than usual, or the steering feels vaguely odd, don't dismiss it as your imagination. Trust your instinct, and investigate the reason, or seek advice.
      Many breakdowns are battery related. If when you start the car, the engine turns over more slowly than usual; the battery might be on its way out. If you suspect your battery to be coming to the end of its life, take it to a garage or fast fit operator; many perform battery checks for free.
      Keep an eye on the tyres; they’re your only contact with the road. Any cuts, damage or reduction in pressure need urgent attention. Be aware of the fuel gauge. An empty tank is an all-too-common cause of breakdown as is putting the wrong fuel into the car. This is why Rwanda Assistance Automobile is proud to include Misfuelling in all but its entry-level policy.
      Weekly
      Check tyre pressures, and if necessary adjust them to the correct level shown in the car handbook or on a sticker inside the fuel flap or on the door pillar. Make sure they’re at the correct pressure for the load you’re carrying. Don't forget to check the spare. Give all tyres a look over, checking for lumps, splits and cracks.
      Check and top up the windscreen washer bottle
      Even if you haven't time to clean the car, wash the windows and wipe all the lights to keep you safe. Check for any blown bulbs.
      If your car does not have a sealed-for-life battery, check the level in the cells and top up with distilled water as necessary.
      Monthly
      Check the level of oil in the engine, and ensure it is between the maximum and minimum marks on the dipstick.
      Check for sufficient liquid in the cooling system. Most modern cars have plastic coolant reservoirs, where you can see the level. In an older car, when the engine is cold, unscrew the radiator cap to check the coolant level. Top up as necessary, and include antifreeze in the mixture, in winter and summer. It helps protect against overheating, as well as frost damage.
      Give the car a good wash and polish to keep the paintwork in tip top condition.
      Watch for the first signs of rust forming, and have it treated before it gets worse. Look for any signs of water leaks inside. Check tyre tread depths and look for signs of uneven wear, hinting at possible suspension problems.
      Before any long journey
      Check tyre pressures, spare included.
      Check all fluid levels and top up as necessary.

       

       

      How to change a car wheel

      Rwanda Assistance Automobile will always come to your assistance to keep you going. But with flat tyres some people prefer to change wheels themselves. Here’s what to do if you do suffer a puncture.

      As soon as you notice you have a flat tyre, slow down and find a safe place to stop off the road that’s on a stable, flat surface.

      Put on a high visibility vest and place a reflective hazard warning triangle plenty of distance behind your car, to alert oncoming traffic. Then locate the spare wheel, the jack, wheel brace and locking wheel nut key. All should be either under the boot floor, under the car or in some SUVs on the back door.

      If you can't find a spare wheel, your car may instead be equipped with mousse that can be squirted into the tyre through the valve. This is only a temporary solution to get you home and you should get the tyre changed as soon as possible.

      To remove the punctured wheel and tyre, loosen the wheel nuts with the wheel wrench, but don't remove them yet. If you can't see the wheel nuts, you may have to prise off a cover first. If your car has alloy wheels, one of the nuts is likely to be locking. There will be a key that will fit into the wheel brace to undo this.

      Check the handbrake is firmly on and put the car into first gear. Find the jacking point by looking in your car's manual, and use the jack to raise the car so that the wheel with the punctured tyre is off the ground.

      Now fully remove the wheel nuts and take off the wheel. If the wheel won’t budge, call Rwanda Assistance Automobile: pushing and pulling it could bring the car off the jack.

      Lift the spare wheel onto the hub, line up the holes and screw in the nuts until they’re finger tight.

      Once the wheel is secure, lower the jack and use the wrench to tighten the wheel nuts fully.

      Check them all twice to be sure none is loose. Remember if your car has a space saver spare wheel your top speed and the number of miles you can cover is limited.

       

       

      Recognising warning lights

      If a warning light illuminates on the dashboard, don't ignore it. Treat it as a danger sign and investigate. Loosely speaking a red light means potentially serious trouble. Do not drive the car. Orange stands for caution and shows something is requiring urgent attention. Green is a reminder, not a problem. Here is what the main lights mean and how to react if they come on.

      Red Lights

      Brake system

       

      Brake system light

       

      Assuming you haven’t left the handbrake on, stop your vehicle when it’s safe and contact the manufacturer or dealer. Any fault with the brakes, brake fluid level or the related driving aids such as anti-lock brakes (ABS) and stability control (ESP) could be dangerous.

      Engine cooling system

       

      Engine cooling system light

       

      This could indicate that there is insufficient coolant fluid in the radiator, or that some sort of blockage or system malfunction hasoccurred, causing the temperature to rise. Stop the vehicle when safe and contact your recovery assistance provider.

      Engine oil pressure

       

      Engine oil pressure light

       

      Pull over and check the engine’s oil level. (If you are not familiar with the car, read the vehicle handbook for instructions on how to do this.) Low levels of oil need topping up urgently. Failure to do so could result in serious engine damage. The majority of petrol stations sell oil.

      Power steering system

       

      Power steering system light

       

      There may be a failure of the power-assisted steering. It is possible to continue your journey, but exercise due caution and have the system checked as soon as possible.

      Airbags and seat belt restraints

       

      Airbags and seat belt restraints

       

      If there is a fault with an airbag, it may not work in an accident or, worse still, could deploy unexpectedly. Head for the nearest qualified servicing workshop.

      Vehicle charging system

       

      Vehicle charging system light

       

      This probably means the battery is no longer being charged. Switch off all unnecessary electrical items (such as the air conditioning and audio system) and take the car to be checked. If it shows a yellow symbol, it suggests the charge level of the battery is very low, and should be investigated further.

      Steering lock

       

      Steering lock light

       

      A yellow symbol for the steering lock may simply be there to remind you that the steering lock system is engaged before you can start the engine. However, if it’s red and you’re driving, there is a malfunction. Ideally, do not switch off the engine (as it could prevent you from restarting the car) and drive to your nearest garage to have it checked.

      Ignition switch

       

      Ignition switch light

       

      When driving, this can show in amber or red, depending on the severity of the fault with the ignition switch system. Either should be examined further.

      Orange lights

      Emission control/engine management

       

      Emission control/engine management light

       

      This could flash or be permanently switched on. It suggests a fault with the engine or the engine’s associated operating software. If it doesn’t extinguish after switching the car off and back on, consult your garage.

      Diesel particulate filter

       

      Diesel particulate filter light

       

      A diesel particulate filter is fitted to modern diesel engines to trap sooty exhaust emissions. Depending on how the car is used, it may be necessary to take an extended drive to ‘burn off’ these psub_section_articles, effectively cleaning the filter. Your vehicle’s handbook will explain how to do this.

      Glow plugs

       

      Glow plugs light

       

      It is not uncommon for a diesel glow plug to wear out. This symbol will alert the driver to any problems - which can be rectified inexpensively by most garages.

      Tyre pressure monitoring

       

      Tyre pressure monitoring light

       

      If your car has tyre pressure monitoring, it will signal only when one tyre falls to a significantly lower pressure than the other three tyres. (If all tyres gradually lose air over an extended period of time, it may not alert the driver.) If you see this symbol, check all tyres’ air pressure as soon as possible. This is no substitute to checking tyre pressures on a regular basis.

       

       

      Recognising common problems

      You turn the key and nothing happens

      Switch on the headlights. If they're dim, the battery's probably flat

      The engine won't turnover and there's a clicking sound

      It could be a loose battery connection; check the terminals. It could be a faulty starter motor; contact your local garage or Rwanda Assistance Automobile on 0782330499 for assistance.

      The starter turns over but the engine doesn't fire

      It could be damp electrics; try a moisture-repellent spray. May be an ignition fault; seek help from your local garage or Rwanda Assistance Automobile. Might be fuel starvation; is there enough in the tank?

      You are driving and the engine starts to cough

      Most likely low fuel. Check the gauge and refuel

      The car starts to smell hot and steamy

      The engine is overheating. Stop immediately and let it cool.

      Let the temperature go down before topping up the cooling system.

      There's a burning smell but no steam

      There could be an electrical fire.

      Stop but don't open the bonnet. Get out of the vehicle and if you can see evidence of a fire, call the emergency services and ensure no one is within the vicinity of the vehicle.

      The engine falters and stops in hot weather, or won't re-start after a brief stop at the end of a long drive

      Likely to be fuel vaporisation. Wait about 15 minutes with the bonnet open and try again. If you can’t get the engine to start, call Rwanda Assistance Automobile for assistance on 0782330499.

      The engine becomes noisy or loses power

      One of several potentially serious problems. If you can, take the vehicle to a garage for further inspection. If the engine dies, try to park safely off the road and call Rwanda Assistance Automobile for assistance on 0782330499.

      How is the Automobile history i  your other regions??? Does it have any similarities with the Rwanda Assistance Automobile above???

       

      Jerry Rawlings Mbabali Rosine ZADI laurence Ullmann Anthony Le Bleis Arnold Amon Charlette N'Guessan Désirée N'Guessan David Aurelie KOUASSI

       

      Source: Rwanda Assistance Automobile