Going away for the summer? Make sure your car is in travel worthy condition with this checklist

Are you planning your summer holiday? While your year-end getaway should be a time to just climb into the car, drive off and leave all your worries behind, there is some preparation involved to ensure a smooth, safe and relaxing break. Before you head off, take some time to go through these routine checks for your vehicle.

  • Check the spares and repairs kit

The spare tyres should be in good condition and in situ, and these include both the one for the vehicle and a spare if you are pulling a trailer. Generally, the radiator should be flushed out and new coolant added around every two years so check that your car has been serviced regularly. Make sure you have an emergency kit for breakdowns and basic repairs, and include a set of jump leads. Emergency kits should also include water, tarpaulin in case you have to get under the car, medical kit, spare phone charger, gloves and some basic tools.

  • Check the tyres and wires

Make sure that all the tyres on the car are roadworthy and properly inflated, and that they have the required amount of tread. Look at any visible wiring in the vehicle to make sure it is not corroded or the outer sheath worn through. Heat in the summer can be worse on the car batteries than the winter cold because chemical reactions in the battery speed up when exposed to overheating. This overcharges a battery so make sure it is kept clean and in good condition.

  • Check out the lights and brights

Make sure that all lights both inside and outside the car are working (you should also have included spare bulbs in the spares kit). This means reversing lights and indicators as well as fog lamps. Replace any cracked driving mirrors and give them all a clean so you have good visibility. If you are towing a wide trailer or caravan, don’t forget to fit towing mirrors as well.

  • Check the use of juice

This means checking the fluid levels in the car are at the appropriate levels (as well as making sure there are no visible leaks). Check that the windscreen washer is full, and that the engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and coolant are topped up.

  • Check the brakes and shakes

Get your brakes checked out to make sure brake pads are in good condition, particularly if it has been some time since your last car service. You can usually tell if they are starting to wear, and if you are going to be away for a long stretch, it is worth ensuring that they are in tiptop condition. If you notice any slight juddering, make sure the tyres are properly balanced as well, and it goes without saying that any odd noises or shakes need to be checked out, particularly if you are pulling a heavy load.

Family road trips are lots of fun, but they can get messy too! Protect your car seats with Dingo Trails’ quality, Australian made neoprene car seat covers. Our range includes car seat covers for Ford, Holden, Hyundai, Isuzu, Jeep, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Subaru vehicles. Click on the relevant link that matches your vehicle model to find out more!

Here’s how to maintain your neoprene car seat covers

Once you have invested in a set of premium neoprene seat covers for your car, you will find that the comfort and fit, along with the stylish look of the material, are characteristics that you want to maintain for a number of years to come. Luckily, it is easier than you might think. Follow these simple tips, and your car seat covers will maintain their “good as new” look.

Clean the covers on a regular basis

Keep your neoprene car seat covers in top condition by cleaning them regularly. We recommend the vacuum for getting rid of dirt and dust, brushing the covers down with a clean soft cloth (not a bristle brush), and spot cleaning with a damp cloth when necessary.

If required, use warm water and a mild household detergent (your neoprene car seat specialist will be able to recommend the right product) and wipe down with a clean cloth. Organic residue and salt deposits can deteriorate neoprene over time so make sure that all dirt and stains are cleaned off immediately. Once you have used the shampoo, take a clean cloth and rinse the seats off with fresh water.

Leave the seat to dry naturally and don’t be tempted to get out the hot hair dryer to give it a blow dry. Excessive drying will not help the material and could lead to cracks and ageing over time. You can also use a clean towel to towel them dry and leave the car door and windows open to help dry off the covers before you use the car again.

Because neoprene seat covers are waterproof and extremely durable, you do not have to worry about regularly putting them in the wash. In fact, we suggest that you only wash your car seat covers when they are very dirty.

Avoid spillage of chemicals

Neoprene car seat covers are resistant to a number of organic compounds that are commonly used day to day. However you should avoid some of the more common chemicals that could cause the neoprene to degrade. Acetic acid is found in vinegar, for example, and while it is very diluted, it is best not to spill vinegar on your seat covers.

Other chemicals found in the first aid kit might also cause a problem if they get onto the neoprene, including iodine, which is used to clean cuts and grazes. With young children there is bound to be the odd “accident” but uric acid does have quite a corrosive effect and has to be cleaned up immediately.

The same goes for household items such as bleach, chemical cleaners, turpentine, alcohol, eucalyptus oil and citrus oil cleaners. Avoid letting these come into contact with your seat covers as they can dissolve the glue that is used to laminate the knitted fabric to the inner neoprene rubber. Make sure that when grocery shopping, these items stay in the boot and not on the seat.

Stay in the shade where possible

The sun’s UV rays can damage your car seat covers if you leave them overexposed. Parking the car in the shade or putting it away in the garage is one way to avoid this overexposure, and there are also products on the market that act in the same way that sunscreen does on your skin.

Fortunately, all of our premium neoprene car seat covers here at Dingo Trails are made of OEM-spec’ed neoprene that is UV-stabilised, which means they have been designed to withstand the harsh Australian sun. Nevertheless, parking your car in the shade will increase the lifespan of the seat covers, not to mention preserve your car’s paintwork, so do try to stay in the shade where possible, especially if you are parking somewhere long term.

Our seat covers are also resistant to water damage, dirt and mud, so even though this does not mean that you won’t have to take care of the covers and maintain them, it does mean that when it comes to quality and keeping your car seat covers looking good for longer, you’re already ahead of the pack!

Dingo Trails are experts in designing and manufacturing premium neoprene car seat covers for a wide range of vehicle models, including Ford, Holden, Hyundai, Isuzu, Jeep, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Subaru and Volkswagen. Click on the relevant link that matches your vehicle model to find out more!

Emerging car trends to look out for

At Dingo Trails, keeping up-to-date with automotive trends and developments in the industry is a big part of what we do. In order to design and develop top of the range car seat covers, we keep track of the latest vehicle trends, models and features.

With this in mind, we recently visited the New York Auto Show held in May at the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre. Among the highlights were new car models with sci-fi technology as well as a cool Star Wars themed car (for all you fans out there).

The purpose of our visit was to view new vehicles launches, research their interior styling and understand the differences between American and Australian automotive markets. For example, we were surprised to learn that the Holden Colorado (Australia) and Chevrolet Colorado (USA) that are essentially the same vehicle have significantly different cabin interiors and seats.

We also noticed that pickup trucks in USA are significantly larger than the utes in Australia. We see this trend emerging in Australia as we have personally seen more and more of these monster pickup trucks plying Australian roads.

In terms of car eye candy, there were some real beauties of course, and we also got to learn a little bit more about some of the new technologies that are being developed for the next generation of vehicles. Here are some key trends to look out for.

Driver assist technologies

Self-driving cars have been getting a lot of press in the past year, but while many major automakers are trialling and developing the technology, fully autonomous self-driving cars won’t be available to the public for quite a while yet (except for Tesla).

What is available, however, is a range of driver assist technologies that are increasingly becoming staples in the next generation of cars. These include self parking features, sensors that might activate when you drive too close to the line, and adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts your speed based on the distance of the car that is in front of you.

Internet of Things (IoT) and your car

Your car and your smartphone will soon become one – if it hasn’t already. But there is more on the horizon than just being able to make phone calls and play music in your car through your mobile phone.

In the next five years, Internet connectivity in cars will become commonplace, app developers will begin to adapt their apps specifically for cars, and cars might even be able to “talk” to one another digitally. Car manufacturers like Ford and Toyota have also joined forces to launch a common infotainment system that connects to Apple iOS and Google Android. You might soon be able to command your car to do stuff like turning up the air-con using just your voice!

Electric and hybrid models

Thanks in part to the “glamourisation” of electric vehicles by celebrities and Hollywood stars, electric and hybrid vehicles are on the radar for most consumers these days. Although sales of electric cars have not been as high as manufacturers would like in the past, the industry is moving faster than expected, catching most by surprise.

Recent positive news such as BMW’s i3 and i8 electric vehicles doubling sales in 2016 and electric car sales taking off in Europe have spurred manufacturers to accelerate their EV development.

For example, Volvo has announced that all new vehicles after 2019 will be a hybrid or electric. In France, President Macron has announced that France will end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. With these legislative ‘push’ factors, it is no wonder that multiple research papers point towards the fact that the combustion engine may be obsolete by 2040.

Improvements in technology mean that electric cars can now travel further than ever on a single charge. Coupled with cheaper battery prices, it will certainly make them more appealing when petrol prices begin to rise. Increased environmental awareness on the part of consumers is also an important factor. As such, it’s not surprising that car manufacturers are working hard to develop the electric and hybrid models of the future.

Do you sometimes drive with your pet on your lap? Here are the dangers of doing so

Many individuals in Australia are dog owners. Our pets are, more often than not, part of the family and definitely man’s best friend. We spend money caring for them, paying out for pet insurance and vet bills and ensuring that they get regular exercise. Yet all of this care and attention flies out of the window for some people who, when driving, choose to do so with their pet on their lap.

The RSPCA estimates that around 5000 dogs every year get injured or die because they were involved in falls from moving vehicles. Most dogs sitting on their owners’ laps are not going to be securely restrained. If a driver has to brake suddenly or swerve, they can unwittingly get thrown from the car, hit the windscreen, stop the driver from reaching the brakes or cause other serious distractions.

Legal implications

In 2013, rules were introduced in Australia to stop some of the bad habits that drivers have when driving with their pets in their vehicles. This does not apply to just dogs but rather, all types of pets/animals in the car have to be suitably housed or seated and definitely not on the driver’s lap. If stopped by the police, the driver could face demerits on their licence as well as a fine so there are penalties and financial implications involved.

If driving a ute, there are additional laws that ensure the animal cannot fall off the back of the vehicle when it is moving. This means suitable harnessing or housing animals in cages when on the move. Motorbike riders, passengers or cyclists also cannot lead their animal as and when their vehicle is moving and sitting the dog between the motorbike saddle and handlebars is not allowed.

Safety reasons

While some owners might think that their dogs are safe on their lap, it is yet another distraction that the driver does not need. As noted above, if the vehicle has to come to a sudden stop, a dog can become an airborne missile. Not only could the animal slam into the dashboard or windscreen but it could also become lodged under the gas pedal or brake if it lands on the floor of the vehicle.

A driver that is trying to help a distressed animal is not focussed on what is happening around them. The driver may not be able to stop the moving vehicle if the pet is prohibiting access to the brake or clutch, and could cause serious injuries not just to themselves but other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Additional injuries and concerns

Pets can become scared and turn aggressive when put in situations that are very stressful and frightening. They may turn on others who are attempting to help when accidents have occurred. The last thing an owner wants is for their pet to turn on the emergency service workers or for their animal to run away. Yet these are two more consequences of not taking the right safety precautions when you are driving with pets in the car.

Speaking of pets in your car, does your car need a makeover? Dingo Trails’ quality, Australian made neoprene car seat covers are cheaper than a reupholster, and besides looking great, they will work hard every day to increase your car’s resale value too, all while making your drive more enjoyable.

Find the right car seat cover for your vehicle

Click on the link that matches your vehicle to check out the relevant neoprene car seat covers we have in stock.

Ford Ranger

Holden Colorado

Hyundai ILoad

Hyundai IMax

Isuzu DMax

Isuzu MUX

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Mazda BT50

Mitsubishi Triton MQ

Nissan Navara

Toyota Hiace

Toyota Hilux MK7

Toyota Hilux MK8

Toyota Kluger

Toyota Prado

Toyota Fortuner

Volkswagen Amarok

5 Benefits of neoprene car seat covers

dingotrails.com.au Testimonial for Toyota Kluger - Jimmy V

Here at Dingo Trails, we are committed to designing and producing only the very best seat covers for your vehicle such as exclusively using top quality materials. You might have heard that neoprene car seat covers are among the best quality seat covers that you can get but did you know that not all neoprene seat covers are created equal?

When buying neoprene seat covers, always ask the seller what neoprene rubber was used to make the covers. Unlike the cheap neoprene rubber that some manufacturers use (but don’t tell you), premium automotive-grade neoprene (which is what we use here at Dingo Trails) has been specifically designed for car seat covers and comes with a whole host of benefits; benefits that you should be asking for!

Here, in no particular order, are the top 5 benefits of high quality neoprene seat covers:

  1. Luxurious look and feel

A beautifully designed, high quality neoprene seat cover (especially one that has been custom tailored to your specific vehicle model) will blend seamlessly with the interior of your vehicle. Not only will it look great but it will also feel great under your derriere … giving it the TLC it deserves!

  1. Durable

Top quality neoprene seat covers are extremely durable, which is exactly what you want your seat covers to be. Think about all the wear and tear your car seats suffer from friends, family and children, not to mention the abuse that the family pet might make!

  1. Waterproof and UV-stabilised

One of the most important advantages of neoprene seat covers is that they are waterproof. They protect your car seats from coffee spills, grease, mud, slobbering pets, “accidents” and more!

At the same time, only top quality neoprene seat covers that are UV-stabilised and colour fast; such as our Dingo Trails car seat covers will protect your seat covers from sun damage and won’t fade easily either. This makes for a smart investment as the seat covers will last and look great for a longer time.

  1. Easy to clean

Neoprene seat covers might do all the hard work of protecting your car seats, but cleaning them is a breeze. All you have to do is wipe them down with a damp cloth and mild household detergent when needed. In extreme cases, throw them into the washing machine for a good wash (they’re quick dry too). It’s that simple!

  1. Comfort for all seasons

Australia’s punishing sun can make your car’s vinyl and leather seats feel like a BBQ grill in the summer. Neoprene seat covers will add an extra layer of comfort to your ride by regulating the temperature of your car seats – not just in the summer, but also in the winter when it stops the cold from seeping up from the car seat.