Heading home for the holidays? Before you pack up the car and hit the road, make sure you are adequately prepared and that your vehicle is up for the journey.
PRE-TRIP VEHICLE MAINTENANCE
A pre-trip inspection presents the opportunity to have any potential repairs made at home by your trusted mechanic and reduces your chances of encountering costly and even dangerous problems on the road. It will also give you peace of mind on your journey. Before you go check the following:
- Tires and tire pressure– under inflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. Also, make sure your spare tire is in good condition, you never know if you may end up needing to use it.
- Brakes– make sure your brake pads aren’t worn or in need of replacement, and check your brake fluid.
- Battery- make sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
- Hoses and belts– replace if they are cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear.
- Exhaust– check the exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks, which is especially dangerous in colder months when drivers tend to keep windows closed.
- Air filters– Dirty air filters can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power.
- Wipers- replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during inclement weather.
- Exterior and interior lighting- check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly so that you can see and be seen.
- Check fluid levels– including engine oil, windshield washer solvent, and antifreeze/coolant.
DRIVER SAFETY TIPS
Your car isn’t the only thing that can put you and your family at risk on the road. You, the driver, are just as responsible for making sure that you reach your destinations safely.
- Avoid distracted driving. Distraction.gov states that in 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. Stay off your phone when driving, don’t wear headphones, don’t fidget with the radio, and don’t eat a complicated meal while driving.
- Avoid drowsy driving. Studies show that drowsy driving can impair driving performance as much or more so than alcohol. If you are feeling tired, have another passenger drive for a bit, or pull off the road somewhere safe and take a 15-20-minute nap. The best way to prevent driving drowsy is to always make sure you are getting the recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Don’t drive under the influence. Everyone is aware of the dangers that are involved when one gets behind the wheel under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Keep your family safe over the holidays by not driving if you have had anything to drink. And remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving in many places.
- Make sure passengers are safely and properly secured. According to the NHTSA, 59 percent of car seats are misused. Use a car seat that is age- and size-appropriate, and make sure all kids (and adults) are wearing their seatbelts properly to keep safe. And remember, the safest place for all children under the age of 13 is in the backseat. Click here for a list of car seat check locations nearby that are available year-round.
- Make sure pets are safely and properly restrained. Keep pets out of the front of the vehicle. They can cause distractions and, in the event of an accident, be seriously injured or killed by the airbags. Click here for more of our tips on traveling safely with pets.
- Don’t speed. Avoid costly tickets and deadly crashes by obeying the rules of the road and sticking to the speed limit. Also, maintaining a steady, legal speed helps to conserve fuel.
- Know what to do in the event of an auto accident. View our list of 11 Steps to Take If You are Involved in an Auto Accident before you go to help refresh your memory.
PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES
Keep a list of important telephone numbers in the vehicle, outside of your cell phone, so that you have them available if your phone dies, breaks, or has no service. You should also keep a paper road map in your vehicle in case you get lost in an area with no service or your phone or GPS dies. Also, keep a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle. For longer road trips make sure you pack extra food and water, medications and blankets in case of an emergency.
If you have travel plans this holiday season, Meridian Automotive is happy to help you service your vehicle so that you can reach your destinations efficiently and safely. Call us at (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.
Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!