Summer is the time of year that most families take their family vacations. For many, these vacations consist of road trips. The quickest way to put the brakes on a great family road trip is with an emergency. In fact, this summer alone, AAA is expecting to receive assistance calls from over seven million stranded motorists across America. When you plan ahead and prepare properly, you can minimize that risk.
AAA offers these precautionary tips to help you prepare for your perfect family road trip:
Driving around in the summer heat can be hard on a vehicle, especially if it has not been maintained properly. “An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure,” states AAA. The best thing you can do to prepare your vehicle for a road trip and prevent car trouble is to have your vehicle inspected by an automotive technician before you go. This way, if they see any issues, or anything that could become an issue, it can be addressed before you are stranded away from home. At the minimum, you need to take care of the following:
- Tires. Make sure that all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated to the correct psi. Make sure you check the tires before driving, as hot tires can give inaccurate readings. Check that the tire tread is in good condition, looking for uneven or excessive wear. If the tire is worn past 2/32 of an inch it is time to have it replaced. If you are unsure, look for the tread wear indicator on the tire or perform a penny test.
- Coolant. Check the coolant level and condition. Make sure the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.
- Engine oil. Check the level and condition of the engine oil. If you will be driving under extreme conditions – such as very hot summer weather or pulling a heavy trailer – you may want to consider switching to an oil with higher viscosity. Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
- Belts and hoses. Make sure the engine is off and check for blistered, cracked, soft, or worn belts and hoses. Replace any that need it before they become a problem. If they break while driving, belts especially, can cause some serious engine damage.
- Battery. Hot summer weather can shorten the life of a car’s battery. Check your battery for cracks, corrosion, and loose wires. If your battery is three years or older, you should have it tested by a qualified automotive technician before your road trip.
- Brakes. Check the brakes and change the pads before travelling long distances. The essential brake components that need to be checked before traveling include the pad, lines, and fluid. Remember, when the pads have little material left, they will begin to make noise due to a metal indicator built into them. If you are hearing this sound, they need to be changed.
- Air conditioning. Have the HVAC system inspected for proper function as proper cooling performance is crucial for interiorcomfort.
- Wipers and lights. Visibility is important on the road and you need to make sure that not only can you see, but that other motorists can see you. Make sure all exterior lights are working and that you clean foggy headlight lenses. Replace worn wiper blades to make sure that if you wind up stuck in a storm that you will be able to see clearly.
- Emergency kit. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water. Be sure to fully charge cell phones before starting your journey.
To keep your road trip running smoothly it will require a little more than just vehicle preparation. There are other preparations and considerations to take into account including:
- Maps. Select your route on a map ahead of time and study it to know exactly where you’re going. If you have a GPS or a cell phone with an app like Google Maps, those are fine to use, but you should not solely rely on them. Pack a paper map as well, just in case your batteries die or you lose service.
- Gas. You don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Make it a habit of not letting your gas level drop below one-quarter of a tank.
- Hotels. Reserve all accommodations in advance. The last thing you want to have happen is arriving at your destinations only to find that you have nowhere to stay!
- Security. Make sure you lock your car and keep valuables out of sight when you leave it.
- Passenger safety. Secure children and adults in safety seats, booster seats or seat belts as required by law. Also, if your furry family member is along for the fun, make sure you are using safety precautions with them as well.
- Comfort. Bring snacks, books, games, and/or music for the ride, and a pillow so passengers can sleep. Maybe pack an extra blanket so someone who may be a little more sensitive to the AC can remain comfortable.
- Excitement. At times road trips may become overwhelming for kids. Keep up their excitement about the journey. Bring destination information and discuss all the fun activities that lie ahead. You can also keep them excited about your adventure by having them help you track your trip progress on a map.
If you would like help making sure your vehicle is summer road trip ready, give us a visit. Meridian Automotive provides complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone with your automotive repair needs, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.