Almost 100 million Americans will go on a family vacation sometime this year, and nearly half of them will choose to make it a road trip, according to AAA. If your family is one of them, you’ll want to be sure to make adequate preparations before hitting the road.
No matter how far you’re driving, or in what kind of vehicle, take these steps to help make sure your trip goes smoothly. With a little extra preparation, you'll feel ready for any unexpected bumps along the road.
Catch up on routine maintenance
Before leaving for your trip, make time to get caught up on any routine maintenance items like oil changes, tire rotations and the like. Make sure there are no outstanding recalls for your vehicle. Have your mechanic check all of your vehicle’s fluid levels, the wiper blades, lights and signals, tire tread and PSI, plus, of course, the condition of your brakes. If you’ve noticed any issues at all with how your car is running, now’s the time to mention them so they don’t become a problem when you’re halfway to your destination.
Prepare for tire troubles
Because 1 in 3 new cars no longer include a spare tire, the demand for portable tire inflators continues to grow. Tire inflator products are convenient, easy to pack in your trunk, and are widely available at stores and online. They can get you back on the road quickly in case of puncture or other minor issue, keeping your vehicle going for 3 days or 100 miles, until you can get the damaged tire replaced. Nearly all commercial tire inflators use Honeywell Solstice Propellant, a nonflammable propellant that helps seal larger punctures than alternative propellants. Honeywell Solstice Propellant also has ultra-low global warming potential. Even if you do have a spare tire and jack in your car, if you are unable or reluctant to change your tire for any reason, having a tire inflator along in addition to the spare offers a quicker, easier alternative that can help you out of a roadside jam.
Check your load limit
If you’re planning on packing or hauling a lot of extra gear, especially large or heavy items such as a boat, bikes or a trailer, check your towing capacity and/or load limit to be sure your vehicle can handle the extra weight or towing. Your vehicle’s load capacity is usually available in your owner’s manual and/or on the tire information in the driver’s door sill. For information, regulations and resources on towing a trailer, see the National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s website, nhtsa.gov. Make sure any extra load on your vehicle, such as a rooftop cargo carrier, is properly secured.
Pack with safety in mind
Bring along everything you and your family might need to stay safe and healthy during the trip, along with items you might need in case of a breakdown or other vehicle emergency. Be sure to include a standard first aid kit, along with bottled water and protein or energy bars, blankets, flashlights and batteries, a phone charger, jumper cables, plus warning flares or triangles. Be sure to have the number of a roadside assistance service programmed into your phone in case of emergency.
If you take these steps to ensure your vehicle is in top condition and ready to roll, as well as packing what you'll need in case of an emergency, you'll know that your vacation will be fun and relaxing. Doing a little preparation ahead of time will give you the peace of mind to sit back and enjoy the journey.