The holiday is finally here. The car is packed, and you’re enjoying traveling in a car with no one but your family and the radio out on the open road. Right up to the moment your car breaks down.
A breakdown during a highly anticipated holiday road trip might not ruin your entire vacation, but it can certainly ruin those good vacation vibes.
According to Haynes.com, the top two most common causes of auto breakdowns are dead or weak batteries and tire problems. Either, along with any number of mechanical issues, can quickly leave you stuck on the side of the road.
If you are traveling by car this holiday, you can minimize the chance of a breakdown by preparing a car for travel. Here are some preparation and travel tips that can help.
Have Your Car Serviced a Few Weeks Before the Trip
Have your car inspected by a mechanic to ensure everything is running smoothly. You can also perform some of the following car preparation tasks yourself.
Check all fluids and change or top off whatever is necessary. This includes oil, antifreeze and brake, transmission, and windshield wiper fluids.
If you need to use them, you don’t want your windshield wipers impairing your visibility further. If your blades are more than six months old, replace them.
Inspect your tire tread and rotate and replace any tires as necessary. Ensure each tire is correctly inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Properly inflated tires can help with fuel economy.
If your car battery is more than five years old, you should replace it. Otherwise, have it tested and ensure the connections are clean of corrosion.
Working lights are essential for car safety. Ensure all your lights are functioning, including headlights, brake lights, fog lights, turn signals, and hazard warning lights.
Prepare an Emergency Kit for the Car
Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can make a breakdown downright dangerous. Make sure you have everything you might need while stuck out on the road in your emergency kit. Here are some things to consider for your kit:
- Tools: Jumper cables, a small shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, rope, flares, a jack, and any necessary wrenches for changing a tire
- Supplies: A useable spare tire, water, first-aid kit, waterproof matches, and blankets and gloves if traveling in the cold
Remove Any Unnecessary Items from the Car
You don’t want to start loading up the car only to realize a bunch of stuff needs to come out to fit everything and everyone. Make sure your emergency kit doesn’t get removed and tossed in the garage.
While having the extra space will help you and your passengers travel more comfortably during your road trip, any excess weight you can remove from the car will help you get better gas mileage.
Will You Be Traveling in a Car This Holiday?
Even with careful preparation, you might still experience a breakdown during your car road trip. Know who to call if you do. If you don’t have a roadside assistance plan, you may need to contact a tow company.