Americans across the country are packing their cars for summer road trips. Unfortunately, while most travelers remember to pack their clothes, snacks and road trip entertainment, not everyone remembers to check the condition of their vehicle prior to setting out on the road.
Hoping to arrive at your destination safely? Here are some road trip tips to think about before pulling out of your driveway.
Carry a roadside emergency kit with you
Part of keeping your family safe during your summer road trip is knowing you can't always prevent car problems. You can prepare for the unexpected by bringing a roadside emergency kit with you wherever you go.
Jensen Tire & Auto suggests the following ideas for what to include in your basic roadside emergency kit:
- first aid kit
- jumper cables
- tire jack, lug wrench and inflated spare tire
- flashlight and extra batteries
- roadside flares or other warning light
- two quarts of oil
- a gallon of antifreeze
- water and non-perishable emergency food
Another tool no emergency kit should be without these days is a well-charged cell phone. You could have all the cell phones in the world with you during an emergency, but if they have no charge they will do you no good.
Test your air conditioning
Is your car air conditioning system in good working order? You won't want to wait to find out until halfway through an eight-hour car trip. You can test your air conditioner ahead of time to see if it's working properly and to decide if it needs a tune-up.
Go for a drive and turn up the AC. If the air is getting cool but not cold, there may be a problem with the cooling fans or the cabin air filter. In many newer cars you can check the cabin air filter for dirt, leaves or other obstructions yourself. Replacing it could be all the quick fix you need. However, if your air filter is new and the problem persists, it could be time to schedule a trip to an automotive technician who can determine if there's a problem with the condenser or radiator.
Another common air conditioner problem is a leak in the system. When there's a leak, your system will have less freon to cool the air. If you notice liquid on the ground or unusual moisture around your radiator, it could be a sign of a leak. An automotive technician will be able to find the source of a leak and repair it for you.
Replace wipers and fluid
If you're going somewhere with a chance of rain in the forecast, you'll want to make sure your windshield wipers are in top condition ahead of time. If your blades leave streaks on your windshield or you can detect wear and tear to the blades themselves, it's a good indication it's time for new wipers.
Another summer hazard: squashed bugs and dusty conditions. Topping off your windshield washer fluid and having good quality wipers will help keep your vision clear this summer.
Check the condition of your tires
During summertime, highways and freeways alike are scattered with the remnants of blown out tires. To avoid being one of those unfortunate number who experiences a blowout, it's important to ensure your car's tires are in top working condition before heading out on the road.
The first and easiest thing to check is the depth of your tire tread. You can do this with the quarter test: put George Washington's head into the groove of one of your tires. If the tread is flush with his head, there's about 4/32 of tread left. That's the time when most automotive technicians suggest you start shopping for new tires.
You can also check for uneven wear to the tread which can be caused by infrequent tire rotations or unbalanced alignment. If you think your car has either of these problems, make an appointment to get that fixed before your big trip.
The day of your trip, it's a good idea to stop somewhere to make sure your tires are fully inflated, but not too inflated. This helps prevent blowouts and also prevents uneven wear to the tires. Jensen Tire & Auto suggests checking your owner's manual or asking an automotive service technician to find out what the proper PSI is for your vehicle's tires during the summer.
For more information on safe summer driving or to schedule a pre-road trip inspection, call or visit Jensen Tire & Auto, locally owned and family owned since 1973.