In our previous blog post, you’ve had the chance to read about ways to survive driving a car with no A/C in the summer heat.
And now, with the summer now nearing its end, heat strokes and dehydration are not there to get you every time you get in your car. So if you haven’t had the opportunity to get out of the city for a little road trip with your friends and family, it not too late. We are here for you with 5 tips for a stress-free road trip (if there even is such a thing). Keep reading!
1) Get your car thoroughly checked
When something breaks and leaves you stranded on the side of the road, it’s too late to start worrying about the condition of your car, so you may as well just head right back home. That is why, as part of road trip preparations, you should always – and we do mean always – drive your car over to your trusted mechanic to check it out a couple of days before heading out.
Regular vehicle maintenance is the best way to prevent any big malfunctions and ensure that your car is in good working condition – always. Take your car in for an oil change and ask the mechanic to top off your antifreeze, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Have the mechanic inspect your hoses, belts and brakes for signs of wear and tear. If the weather is going to be extremely hot during your trip, you’ll also want the technician to check your car’s A/C system. (Read our blog post on why your car A/C system blows warm air.) To be sure that you can actually see the beautiful sights on your trip, fill your washer fluid reservoir and check that your wipers are in good condition. Finally, make sure your tire pressure falls within the manufacturer’s recommended range to prevent flat tires and blowouts. Taking a little time to do these little things can save you a lot of trouble when you’re on the road.
2) Clean out the car and pack efficiently
Do your best to clean out all the clutter from your car, because you definitely won’t need all the little things you have accumulated over time during this road trip. Moreover, the more passengers you have on the road trip, the more mess you are going to make of the car (especially if there are kids there, too), so a clean slate will mean a lot once you get going. To keep avoid making your car look like you live in it, throw the trash in the bins along the way. Don’t store it in the vehicle and don’t litter the roadside.
When you’ve cleaned your car from the inside (outside is a given), plan how you are going to store all the luggage you want to take with you. Make sure you have packed only the stuff you are actually going to need and use on the road trip, not the whole closet and refrigerator. Put the suitcases (you probably won’t use them during the actual driving part), in the trunk or under the bags you are more likely to need stuff from during the trip. Keep frequently-accessed items, like snacks, toys and mobile chargers inside the car cabin, so you don’t need to stop every time someone needs something from their bag.
3) Plan the route
As good planning is often a job half-done, consider where exactly you’re going, which roads you’re going to take, their condition and frequency. Take out a map and highlighter if you are old-school, or just preset your navigation if you are a techie. If you plan on driving through big cities or visiting popular places of different sizes, try to avoid morning and evening rush hours and save yourself hours of valuable time. Calculate how long until you reach your destination or at least a place to rest and plan “driving shifts” to avoid driving in the heat. Finally, be aware that the busiest travel times are on big national holidays, so prepare yourself mentally for choke points and other nervous drivers.
4) Be prepared for car troubles on the road
If you’ve chosen to ignore the first tip on this list, then you are bound to encounter some mechanical problems on the road. Make sure you have the necessary tools and services at your disposal if and when that happens, so that in the event of a smaller issue, you can fix it yourself. Some good items to include are a hammer, a rubber mallet, an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, wire cutters, a pair of needle-nose pliers, some baling wire, a can of WD-40 and a rag. (Read about 8 crucial items to have in your car in one of our previous blog posts.)
For example, flat tires are a common and easy-to-address problem that many drivers face while on the road (Take a look at our infographic to see how to repair a punctured tire in 8 steps). Before you leave for vacation, locate your jack and tire iron, and learn how to use them. Also make sure that your spare tire is fully inflated so you can drive on it safely, should you get a flat. If you’re not car savvy, your best bet is to become a member of a roadside service company like AAA. They will send someone to change your flat tire, provide a jump start, bring you gas if you run out, and open your car if you get locked out.
5) Drive alertly and safely
Driving is an inherently dangerous activity, but what might influence driving capabilities are bad or extreme weather conditions and unknown or dangerous areas. Weather can be especially scary for anyone unknowingly in the path of severe weather, so it’s important that you stay aware of the forecast. Bring along a weather radio and tune in for warnings if bad weather is looming. Consider pulling over for a little while if conditions look especially alarming. The same goes for driving in extreme temperatures (be they severely high or low). If driving in the heat, hydrate regularly with water, wear breathable clothes, crack a window and pull over if you feel dizzy or weak.
Also, do a bit of research of the crime stats in the areas you plan on driving through, but haven’t been before. Be aware of your surroundings and act like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing – even if you don’t – because criminals tend to target cars with travel materials like roadmaps visible in the front seat and tourists who look confused. At hotels and restaurants, try to park your car where you can keep an eye on it, especially if you have luggage in or on top of your vehicle. If you need to stop for a food or bathroom break, choose rest areas, gas stations, or restaurants that are busy and well lit.
But the most important thing is to have fun on your road trip! We can take care of your car and you’ll have one less thing on your mind. Come to our repair shops in Hamilton today! We are expecting you!