Many families have taken the road trip of a lifetime, the one the entire family remembers and cherishes for the rest of their lives. But of course there are the roadtrips that you hope to never have to think about again, the ones that resulted in you and your family stuck on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car. It’s happened to me, and more than likely it’s happened to you! If you’re in the small percentage of individuals who hasn’t encountered any car troubles on a road trip, get ready because your luck is running out!
So here we go..some great tips and suggestions for making sure your car stays reliable during your family roadtrip!
Check your Car’s Air Filter- If your car’s air filter is clogged it can reduce fuel efficiency. Don’t worry, as it is easy and inexpensive to change yourself. Wiki has a great guide to cleaning it yourself…http://www.wikihow.com/Change-Your-Air-Filter
Check that all Lights and Signals are Working Properly- Your lights and signals are extremely important while driving your car, especially on long road trips where you might be driving at night. If your lights are not functioning properly they could lead to an accident or you could end up with a hefty ticket from a police officer..
It is a little difficult to check your lights on your own so you’ll need to ask your spouse, friend or kids to help you out on this one.
Create your own Emergency Equipment Pack- It’s always important to travel prepared, you never know when you’ll run into issues. Here are some great suggestions of what to pack in your emergency travel kit: First, an old fashioned paper map, because you never know when your phone or GPS will stop working). Bring at least one spare tire, but if you can bring a second one, even better. You’ll want a flashlight in your kit in case you need to inspect something closer or have to walk to the nearest gas station at night. Do not forget to pack a medical kit in case someone gets hurt. If you are stranded on the side of the road for hours, you’ll want bottled water and food. Be sure to pack a sufficient amount. If you happen to get in an accident and a fire begins, you’ll want to have a fire extinguisher to quickly put out the fire. Another important thing to carry in your emergency equipment pack would be flares. Flares are the universally understood emergency distress signal.
Check your Car Fluids- transmission fluid, coolant and oil are all relatively inexpensive to change. If you happen to drop the ball and forget to add more fluids, the damage that could be caused can be quite costly.
Check your Oil- If it is almost time to get the oil changed, do it before you leave. A long trip can put additional stress on your motor. Also don’t think that adding extra oil by yourself will work like an oil change, because that does not get rid of the sludge from old used oil. You may not realize this due to the fact that you’re continuously adding new, cleaner oil, which makes your oil look like it’s in better shape than it is.
Check your Tires-
I recently had the opportunity to join Cooper Tire for their Super Mom Ride N Drive event, which prompted this road trip motor safety blog post. Let me tell you, I learned quite a bit about tires and tire safety.
I got a chance to drive around with these tires on a wet track. I felt extremely safe going at high speeds and driving around a course track.
The most common vehicle component to fail are the tires. If you follow the procedures below, you can help decide whether you’ll need your tires rotated or a new set of tires before your next family roadtrip.
Check your Tire Wear by using a penny or tread gauge. If you use a penny to check your tire wear, put the edge of the coin into the tread, with Lincoln going in head first. If the top of Lincoln’s head is fully visible, your tire is fully worn and will need to be replaced. You’re tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Remember that if your tires are worn, they are more susceptible to skidding or sliding on the pavement. Tires are also more likely to be damaged by potholes, and other road hazards when worn.
Check your Air Pressure, as low or high pressure can cause unforeseen problems while on your road trip. Low tire pressure can cause excessive stress on a tire. Over inflation can cause uneven wear, and handling and braking issues. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than three percent.
You can usually find the proper air pressure by looking in your owners manual or where the door shuts on the driver side. All tires have a max tire pressure that should never be exceeded. You can find an air pressure max on the side of the tire. Remember that this is the max tire pressure, not the optimal pressure.
Also, be sure to check the pressure in your spare tire. You don’t want to be changing your tire only to find your spare isn’t working.
Also, before packing the trunk for a long road trip, be sure to read the recommendations for loading the vehicle. (You can locate this information on the information placard located on the vehicle door edge or in the manual.)
Overloading your vehicle can cause your tires to overheat and cause structural damage to your tires that could also cause issues with suspension, wheel failure, increased braking distance or brake failure, and adverse vehicle handling/stability.
Just remember that it’s extremely important to check your car at least a week before your next road trip. If you take some of my advice, you’ll have a better chance of making the most out of your family vacation!
Family Travel with Colleen Kelly Team Member