Road trips are a family vacation staple, but if you can’t get there safely, your road trip quickly turns into a disaster that you never want to repeat. Don’t hit the highway before your ride is ready. Here are a few things that you should check and invest in before you head our way to ensure that you travel safely and efficiently.
It’s important to take steps to prepare your car for a safe journey. With over 200,000 people injured in car accidents in 2013, you should make sure that your car is road-worthy before embarking on your road trip. Your entire trip rests on the capable wheels of your car. Are they as capable as they seem? You should find out—unless you would like to risk being stranded on the side of the road with a shredded tire.
Check your tires within two weeks of embarking on a road trip. Many tire shops inspect tires and fill up tires that have low air pressure—for free. You will want to check the tread of your tires, the air pressure, the alignment of each wheel, and the overall condition of each tire. Make sure you have a spare tire and the tools to install it inside your vehicle. Maybe even study up a bit on how to change out a spare tire in a pinch. That way, in case of an emergency, you’ll have a plan for what to do.
The first thing that you should be on the lookout for are any leaks in your vehicle. If there are leaks, then take your car in to get the leaks patched or repaired. That way, you do not lose fluids while on the road. Next, you should make sure that all of your fluids are clean and filled up. According to BAP, there are at least five major fluids that you should check on before leaving: motor oil, brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. If you want to be extra-vigilant, then you could also refill your wiper fluid and prepare a can of gas to keep in the trunk. Even if you don’t end up using the spare gas yourself, you never know who else you might run into on the road that might need it.
If you are someone who enjoys driving with your windows down, then you will definitely benefit from installing wind deflectors on your vehicle’s windows. Open windows can make your vehicle less aerodynamic and fuel-efficient (which is not desirable or cost-effective for a long road trip). Wade Auto explains that wind deflectors will decrease drag and improve airflow to make your car more aerodynamic. They have other great benefits, too.
Wind deflectors decrease the amount of rain and bugs that end up on your side windows, meaning you’ll spend a lot less time cleaning up grime and have better visibility as you drive, no matter what the weather conditions. By eliminating the turbulent air that enters the cabin of your vehicle, wind deflectors boost your fuel efficiency while also reducing wind noise and improving visibility.
Child Safety Features
When you’re planning a long-distance family road trip, it’s important to ensure your children’s safety. Children have their own unique safety needs when it comes to your car’s seating, features, and setting. Before you embark, ensure that you have some key safety features in place. Children up to the age of 12 require specialized restraints in order to safely ride in a vehicle. Industry experts recommend using car seat alternatives that adjust the seat belt to the child’s body. For a safe road trip, you want to go beyond traditional car seats and take steps to ensure the safety of your older children. In addition to seating, it’s also important to ensure that child safety locks are engaged on your car windows and doors.
Spare Key and Paperwork
No one thinks they’re going to be that person—the person who locks themselves out of the car on a road trip — but it happens all the time. If you do not have a spare key, then invest in another one. You do not want to be miles away from your home without any way of entering or driving your vehicle (and no way of calling for help from a locksmith, in case you also happened to lock your phone in the car). You can keep your spare key on a separate key chain, in a magnetic hidden car key holder, or in your wallet to ensure that you do not lose both keys at the same time. That being said, if you do somehow lose your keys, there are methods of getting back into your car again; you can brush up on some of them here.
Make sure that your car is also up on its registration and insurance and that your license won’t expire during your trip. This will help prevent things from escalating if you happen to get pulled over for a traffic ticket.
If you have scheduled maintenance that is due on your vehicle, then invest in that first. Many issues can be addressed, and fixed, during a maintenance check. It does not hurt to have a skilled mechanic inspect the ins and outs of your vehicle before you head out on your road trip adventure.