From Thanksgiving to Christmas, some of the highest volume of travel occurs in the last two months of the year. And, as would be expected, so do the highest level of accidents. Coupled with the change in weather patterns and more cars on the road, your car should be ready for any circumstance. This involves not just regular car maintenance but also reviewing your policy to make sure you have affordable car insurance so you can traverse the miles with confidence and comprehensive coverage.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready for the Trip
Driving long distances can be rough on your car, as can the changeable weather you might be facing along the way. While you can take your vehicle to a mechanic for a tune-up, and have it checked thoroughly, there are many things you can do on your own to give you peace of mind.
- Inspect the windshield wipers. They should be in good working condition, and not torn. If they are, replace them.
- Test your car battery by performing a load test. Turn on the headlights without starting the engine. Leave them on for 10-15 minutes. Start your car; watch to see if the headlights dim noticeably as the engine turns over. If they do, the battery doesn’t pass the test and you may want to consider replacing it.
- Check your brake pads and rotors for wear and tear. If necessary, get them replaced.
- Inspect all of the tires; check to be sure each has the proper pressure. Find the proper tire pressure on the inside of the driver’s door or in the car manual. If you’re driving a long distance, consider getting the tired rotated, and the alignment checked. With modern technology, we can check alignment with great precision, be it wheel alignment or Turbine Alignment
- Change the air filter.
- Look for anything out of the ordinary such as loose clamps, worn hoses, and leaks.
- If you will be carrying a large load of luggage and weight that your vehicle might not be equipped to handle, consider getting the suspension checked.
- If you are hearing any strange noises from the engine or other places, take it to your mechanic to get resolved.
- Don’t ignore dashboard lights like the check engine light, oil lights, and tire pressure monitoring system lights.
- Be sure to have the owner’s manual with you for easy reference
- Make sure the tire iron, jack, and replacement tire are inside the car
- Pack an emergency kit that will include jumper cables, first-aid kit, ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, and if you are traveling in the south, personal fans with extra batteries, and several bottles of water.
- Clean and polish the headlights. Make sure they are oriented correctly for maximum illumination.
Getting Yourself Ready for the Trip
Just as driving many miles can take a toll on your vehicle, it can also take a toll on you! Prepare yourself for holiday travel this year by anticipating the worst (while always hoping for the best!)
- Have paper maps of all of the states/cities you’ll be traveling, just in case GPS isn’t available
- Fill the gas tank before heading out
- Create a calendar that is right for you and your family. Driving 1,000 miles in a day may be a bit too ambitious for little ones and for driving conditions. Take your time, stop frequently to stretch, for bathroom breaks and for snacks, and remember to enjoy the adventure!
- Get a Gas Buddy app to locate the best gas prices wherever you are traveling
- Clean the car inside and out before setting off on your trip
- Put the car’s spare key in your wallet or somewhere that is always on your person (locking keys in the car is one of the biggest issues travelers face)
- Have extra blankets in the car in case of a breakdown
- Be prepared with emergency roadside assistance
- Bring car phone charger(s) and/or portable chargers
- Extra memory cards for pictures of the kids with Grandma
- Sunglasses – even snow glare can be blinding
- Due to Covid 19 mandates and restrictions, make sure to have your vaccine card on you, along with hand sanitizer, face masks, and Clorox wipes. Research ahead of time if there are certain restrictions where you are visiting so you won’t be caught off guard
- If you get tired, pull over to rest. Stay hydrated and don’t push yourself to reach your destination as quickly as possible. Remember, higher speeds equate to higher fuel consumption
It’s predicted that there will be over 80 million people on the road this holiday season. Do your part to protect you, your family, and keep your car running in tip top shape so you can safely get to your destination.