Ahh, the rare three day weekend. There’s something about an extra day off work that triggers a bit of wanderlust. If you’ve got big plans to hit the road for Labor Day weekend, these pre-road trip safety tips can help make sure you get from point A to point B without too many bumps in the road.
Fluids are just as important for cars as they are for humans. But for automobiles, there are six primary fluids that need to be maintained over the vehicle’s life. You probably know that most cars require an oil change every 3,000-5,000 miles. If you’re well within that range, just use the handy dipstick to check that the oil is clean and still at the proper level. The other fluids to check are transmission, brake, radiator, power steering and windshield. Most of these require maintenance much less frequently (flushing them every 30,000 – 60,000 miles). But, topping them off before a long trip is a safe bet. (1)
It might not seem like a critical safety feature on a normal sunny day. You may even take them for granted. But as soon as a rainstorm passes by, you’ll be wishing that your windshield wipers were in pristine condition. Give your wiper blades a quick inspection to make sure that they are in good shape. Not sure what to look for? Spray some windshield wiper fluid and make sure that the blades wipe it away cleanly without leaving streaks or pulling away from the windshield.
Test your tires.
You won’t get far if your tires aren’t up to par. At the minimum, use a tire pressure gauge to make sure that they’re filled to the correct level. The level varies from one vehicle to another but can usually be found on a sticker inside the door or in the owner’s manual. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve still got decent tread on your tires. Rather than eye balling it, try this trick… Grab a penny, and stick it heads down in between grooves of the tire, and heads towards you. If the tread doesn’t cover any part of Lincoln’s head, you should consider getting new tires. (2) And of course, if there are obvious issues like a nail embedded in the rubber, you’ll want to get that resolved before you trust it on a long journey.
Brace for a breakdown.
Even with all the best pre-trip planning, stuff happens. While we hope you don’t need them, make sure you have the basics. That includes: jumper cables in case of a bad battery, a spare tire and jack in case of a flat, and flares to keep you safe during any roadside repairs. It’s also a good idea to have a car charger for your phone so that you can call for backup if necessary.
Plan for the worst.
Again, life happens. And while you certainly don’t need to travel with apocalyptic-level supplies, grabbing a few items for a “just-in-case kit” can make you feel at ease. A small first aid kit, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a flashlight with extra batteries, some water and a blanket can really come in handy if something unforeseen throws a wrench in your road-trip.
Not handy? If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to checking off these items, many auto body shops will do a quick safety check to make sure your car is road worthy!
On travel heavy weekends (read: long or holiday weekends), there’s a higher risk of getting in a car accident.(3) While you can’t always prevent an accident, you can prevent unexpected car repair costs by making sure that you’ve got adequate car insurance coverage. If you’re trying to save money by sticking to liability insurance only, use our app to shop around to see if you can get better coverage without spending much more out of pocket.