This article has been updated for 2020.
There is no better time for a vacation with your group of friends or family than the summer or fall time. As you start to plan your late summer getaways, there are many things to consider. For instance, if you are using some of your vacation days to head out on the open road to see the sights, there are a couple of things you might want to attend to before hand. While there are few things more fun than a classic road trip, it is important to take the proper precautions to ensure your vehicle is ready to hit the road.
Planning For Covid-19 Changes
Due to the ongoing pandemic travel is changing, and road trips are no exception. Throughout the beginning of 2020, travel in all forms was discouraged if not for essential reasons. However, as lockdown rules are slowly loosened by states across the U.S., summer road trips may be possible again. If you are one of the many people eager to get out of your house and on the road, keep these extra road trip safety tips in mind:
- Plan Ahead Well: Plan your entire route before leaving. Changes due to the coronavirus have impacted many aspects of road travel that we may take for granted. For example, some states have closed rest-areas, or limited the hours of amenities available there. If your route includes toll roads, be aware that some companies are not allowing in-person toll payments, so you will be billed by mail instead.
- Take Sanitation Measures: Along with your regular road trip provisions, be sure to pack extra sanitation supplies. Hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfecting wipes, and any other items you might need to protect yourself after interacting with people and things outside of your own home. Avoid paying for gas with cash. Paying with a card lets you avoid an in-person interaction, and you won’t need to touch cash that others have handled.
- Prepare Lodging Ahead of Time: If you’re planning to spend some nights in hotels, call well ahead of time to make reservations and learn about any new requirements hotels may have due to the coronavirus. Many hotels have updated their sanitation strategies to ensure their rooms are as safe as possible. However, it’s a good idea to be prepared to sanitize surfaces yourself once you arrive as an extra precaution.
Check Your Tires
Checking that your tires are ready for the miles you are about to put on them is one of the most important factors in not only having a relaxing drive, but also a safe one. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire blowouts cause more than 78,000 crashes a year, some of these resulting in serious injury or death. To side step these issues, there are a few things you need to check off your list before you head out.
Be sure that each tire, including your spare, is at the exact tire pressure your manufacturer specifies. The correct PSI can typically found in your owner’s manual and often on the inside of the driver’s side door (where you might find the VIN number). In addition to the tire pressure, be sure the tread on every tire is not getting low and, if it is, replace it with a new tire. Speaking of replacing tires, double check that you have everything you need to change a tire on the road (jack, lug wrench, and lug nut key if needed).
Top Off Your Fluids
If you are nearing that manufacturer recommended 3,000 mile point for your engine oil change, you will want to get an oil change before you start your long drive. In addition to the engine oil, both your transmission and axle have their own sets of fluids that keep them running properly.
These different oils and fluids keep your engine cool as it runs. This is especially important for taking a long drive. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specific fluid change intervals, or consult your local mechanic to check on your engine for you.
Change Your Air Filter
Most manufacturers recommend that you change your engine air filter every 12,000 miles, but often people forget and let it go much longer. While it might not seem important, your engine air filter is what helps keep your engine running efficiently by keeping out harmful dirt and debris. By letting your engine air filter get clogged, your engine performance is likely to falter causing lower gas mileage, decreased acceleration, and more.
Check Your Brakes
Your vehicle’s brakes are another crucial aspect of your travel safety. If you are experiencing any abnormalities with your brakes including but not limited to squeaking, grinding, sponginess when you press the pedal, or a delayed response, get your brakes checked prior to heading out for a long road trip. (If you aren’t sure if your brakes are functioning perfectly or not, take a look at these common signs of brake problems).
Visit A Mechanic
If you want to have the utmost confidence in your vehicle’s performance, consider having your mechanic give it an overall check up. Let them know that you’re planning a long drive so that they know what to look for. Allowing a mechanic to thoroughly check over your vehicle is the best way to ensure a smooth and safe drive!
Getting ready for a road trip and need a check up for your car? Visit Reliable Automotive, an auto repair shop in Kyle, Buda, and San Marcos, to have a professional mechanic take a look at your vehicle.