We are at the peak of the summer vacation season. Families everywhere are packing up the car before journeying across America to see the sites while creating lasting memories before the kids head back to school.
Whether you’re just headed to Grandma’s house in southern Indiana or taking a longer trek to Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, or Niagara Falls, it’s critical you first make sure your car is up for it. So, we ask, when’s the last time that vehicle of yours had a good check-up?
In doing our research for this article, we naturally called upon AAA. It’s no surprise that they had some helpful tips for staying safe on your summer motor adventures:
- Check all of your batteries
Have your battery checked before you travel and keep jumper cables in the car. A dead battery is one of the top reasons AAA rescues motorists. The typical life of a car battery is between three and five years, and most car repair shops will test your battery for free to make sure it has enough life left for a long trip.
If a dead battery does leave you stranded, you’ll need to call for help. That’s why you should keep your phone battery charged and a portable phone charger in the glove box.
Jumper cables or a jump-start pack can get you back on the road, but be sure you are well versed on how to use them safely.
- A flashlight can be your most important tool
A flashlight helps you see and be seen if your car breaks down, especially at night. The new LED lights are great and have much longer battery life and some rechargeable models can double as cell phone chargers.
- Check your tires—including the spare
Nobody wants a flat tire. Check to make sure your spare is ready before you start driving. Check your tires before a trip with the penny test: Put an upside-down penny into one of the tread grooves of each of your tires. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered, you have enough tread left for safe driving.
Also make sure your tires are properly inflated. Not only does it help save fuel, but it keeps your tires from wearing unevenly. It’s not a bad idea to keep a tire inflator in the car.
Don’t forget about the spare, either—unless your car doesn’t have one.
Currently there are 125 makes and models of vehicles that may not have an actual spare. Instead, the car is equipped with a tire repair kit. Be sure you know what you have. Many folks don’t even bother to check until it’s too late. Also, be sure the kit is working before you hit the road.
- Make sure you have fluids for both the car and passengers
Before and during a long trip, check all your car’s vital fluids—oil, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, and brake fluid—and top them off if necessary.
You should also bring the following items along—especially if you’re traveling in remote areas where services are few and far between. Check your owner’s manual to see what kinds of oil and coolant your car requires:
- Extra oil
• Premixed engine coolant
• Windshield washer fluid
• Duct tape
• Basic hand tools including screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, and pliers
• Tire gauge
• A first aid kit
Don’t forget about water for passengers and pets. Keep a small quantity of necessary medication and snacks in the car just in case you are stranded.
- Make yourself visible
Reflective triangles and flares can help other motorists see you when your
car is broken down. If a driver is broken down or stuck, flares or reflective triangles alert other motorists and help give them enough time to slow down to pass safely. Some cars already come with these, but others don’t.
These are some of the top tips we found from the AAA. Of course, there are plenty more things to keep in mind. Don’t text and drive. In some states, including Illinois, it is against the law to even talk on your cell phone while driving without a hands-free unit. It also goes without saying, don’t every try to drive after using drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, even if you follow every safety precaution, a perfectly planned trip can result in tragedy. That’s where Theodoros & Rooth can help. If you or other members of your family are victims of an at-fault driver – whether it be another car or a truck – let us step in and help you. We will listen to the circumstances of your accident and, if we believe you have a case, Theodoros & Rooth will represent you every step of the way. There is never a charge until we win your case.
From the entire Theodoros & Rooth family to yours, have a safe and happy summer.