Summer and the holidays is one of the busiest times in road travel. I have many fond memories of summer vacations and holiday trips with my family. Whether you are going on a short road trip or a long vacation you need to be sure your car is ready to take you any where you want to go. Proper maintenance and upkeep on your car can save you time and money in in the long run. These ten steps are simple, easy to do and will help ensure a safe, stress free drive.
Of course this is something you should always have up to date on your vehicle. It is always a good idea to check with your insurance carrier to make sure your policy in current. Many policies have options for towing and some roadside assistance. The fees for these are small and you might feel better having that piece of mind while on your road trip.
Whether you are traveling in the Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall you always need these in tip top shape. If your wipers are cracked or not working well it is easiest and inexpensive just to replace them. You can get a good pair from any auto parts store or Wal-Mart for little to nothing. You never know when on vacation you will need them for rain, fog or even snow.
This is one step when you get your car ready where you will want to invest time and money if needed. Have a professional check your tires to see if they have enough mileage left on them for your road trip. You may just need them balanced and be sure they are properly inflated. If you are driving in ice and snow tire chains are recommended. If you need to replace your tires be sure to spend the money for quality ones. Not only is your families safety riding on them, but if you have to replace them on the road will you use up extra time and money. And always be sure to carry a full spare and tire iron incase you need to change a tire.
Nothing will put a damper on your vacation more than problems with your battery. You will want to be sure it is fully charged and not in need of being replaced. You or a mechanic can inspect the battery cable for wear and tear and corrosion. It is also a good idea for them to check the fluid levels in the battery. Keep jumper cables in your trunk for emergencies. If you do not want to have to rely on a stranger to jump your car if needed a portable battery charger is a great idea. Here you can see how compact they are and you plug it into your cigarette lighter to charge your battery. This is a good idea if you are traveling in a area that is desolate or you are concerned about safety.
A trip to your local mechanic for a tune-up is a must before you leave for vacation. This can be done by a smaller local mechanic or larger chain like Meineke, Pep Boy or Midas. They will check things like the engine, heating and cooling systems, belts and hoses, coolant, power steering and more. It is better to take the time and spend some to be sure your vehicle is in prime running condition before you leave. You surely do not want to get stuck somewhere with a shady mechanic. I am sure everyone remembers the Griswold’s from National Lampoons Vacation and their mechanic experience.
If you are experienced in car maintenance you can do this yourself at home. My family always brings our too Jiffy Lube, they are fast and have locations everywhere. They will change your oil, check your fluids and filters and advise you if any need replacement. And don’t forget if you go on a long road trip to see if your oil will need another change when you return.
This is something even the most experienced traveler might not even think of. Be sure before you leave you inspect your gas cap for any cracks or seal problems. If yours is not in good shape it is a good idea to replace it. A ill fitting or broken gas cap can allow gas to spill or evaporate while you are driving. This can be a safety issue and you can loose money on gas this way.
You might want to consider a organization like AAA, if you are not already a member. They have three different levels of membership and the yearly fees are not very much. Here you can compare the benefits of the three programs. You can rest easy knowing if you are locked out of your car, need towing or emergency fuel delivery they are there to help. A added benefit from being a member as you can see on their website is they offer discounts on hotels and even dining and entertainment.
One of my favorite parts as a child on our vacations was holding the atlas and keeping track of where we were. Even if you have been on many road trips it is wise to invest in a good atlas and local maps for your destination. Even if your car is equipped with a GPS system I still recommend these since GPS systems are not foolproof. At Randmcnally.com you can even get assistance in your trip planning from directions, maps to locating nearby hotels and attractions.
Safety Emergency Kit
My last tip to be sure your car is ready for your road trip is probably on e of the most important. We all hope and plan for a fun, worry free vacation, but you always should be prepared for anything. You can either make up your own safety kit or purchase one all made up.Here you can see some of the different options if you want to buy one. For all they include and your piece of mind they are very reasonably priced, they are also US Coast Guard approved. Whichever you choose be sure to have emergency food, water, flashlight, blanket if traveling in cold weather, flares, reflectors, fix-a-flat, knife and emergency signs. It is also a good idea to carry a first aid safety kit with band aids, peroxide, bandages and any medicines your family takes or may need.
Rand Mcnally – www.randmcnally.com/
AAA – www.texas.aaa.com/en-tx/Pages/Home.aspx
Survival Goods – www.survival-goods.com/Emergency_Car_Kits_s/27.htm