A telephone survey by AAA of 1,017 families found 80 percent are planning a road trip this summer, up 10 percent from last year. Are you part of that group? Here are 10 ways to ensure your next road trip is safe, strategic and, of course, FUN.
1. Get a Tune-Up
Make sure your tires, battery, fluids and belts are all in prime working condition. Consider it a yearly physical for your car.
2. Inflate Your Tires
Underinflated tires can cost you in terms of fuel economy! And don’t just rely on looks. Modern tires don’t deform until they’re drastically low on air, so be sure to bring a tire gauge and check the pressure often throughout your trip. Tire pressure numbers are commonly found in your manual, on a sticker inside the driver’s side door, or on the tires themselves.
3. Gadgets are Good, But Still Buy a Map
You might think maps are obsolete, but you should always purchase one to have on hand as a standby. You never know when your phone will die, or your GPS will lead you astray.
4. Pack an Emergency Kit
The best kits include things like blankets, flashlights, batteries, rags, flares, jumper cables, tools to change a tire and a first-aid kit. An extra, fully charged cell phone is also a great addition. And always keep your car’s manual in the vehicle-- you never know when you might need it!
5. Towing Something?
If you’re towing a trailer or boat (lucky you!), ask your mechanic if you should be using a high viscosity motor oil. It can be easier on the engine, and more fuel-efficient than thinner oil.
6. Eyes on the Road
You can tune your vehicle and pack the best emergency kit, but the most important safety feature on your car is YOU. Get a good night’s sleep before you start your trip, and consider dividing the driving hours with your adult passengers. Stay alert, stay hydrated, and make frequent stops to stretch your legs.
7. No Cruising in the Dark
Cruise control is great when it comes to maintaining a safe speed and increasing fuel efficiency. But don’t use it when driving at night. Having to concentrate on maintaining your speed can help you stay alert and awake while your passengers are snoozing.
8. Running on Empty
This might seem obvious, but don’t wait until your gauge is on “E” to start looking for a gas station. When you’re driving in uncharted territory – even if only you – you never know when you’ll get your next chance to fill up.
9. Check your Battery
If you think summer heat is draining to YOU, imagine what it can do to your battery. Get the battery checked before you hit the road, as extreme conditions can cause the battery fluid to evaporate, causing damage to the battery itself and its charging system.
10. Pack Strategically
With four suitcases, three duffle bags, two coolers, etc., it might seem like the easiest way to load up your car is to just throw everything in at once. But the safe thing to do is pack the heaviest items as far forward and as close to the floor as possible. This keeps the center of gravity low, preventing the car from becoming top-heavy.
While we can’t pack your luggage or arm you with a suitable stash of road snacks, we can make sure your vehicle is safe and road-trip ready! Schedule an appointment at Sears Auto Center today.