I’ve been thinking about cars and car safety a lot lately. A few months ago, our 16-year old, 201,000 mile Toyota Camry failed California’s required emissions test. It wasn’t really a surprise, I knew big things (including the pollution-regulating catalytic converter) were starting to go, and we decided it was finally time to call it quits. But though I knew it was coming, I still wasn’t prepared to research and buy a new car. Fast forward a few weeks and I’m now the proud owner of a 2017 plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. It’s a great car and I’ve been really excited to take it on summer road trips with my family and friends.
New car or old, there are some things you should always do before you hit the road. I teamed up with Nationwide to share some automotive road trip safety tips from their blog post, Safe Tires for a Smooth Ride, and some of the safety measures I take before I leave home for a long drive.
1. Get an oil change, tune-up, brake check, and do basic DIY vehicle maintenance:
Before you leave, schedule any necessary service such as oil changes, long overdue tune ups, or brake repairs. Do basic maintenance on your vehicle such as checking windshield wipers and fluid levels.
2. Check your tire tread depth, tire pressure, and alignment:
Tire condition is a big part of auto safety. When I first started driving, my dad taught me the “penny test,” but in recent years studies have shown that using a quarter to check your tire tread is actually more accurate. Make sure your tires are not under (or over!) inflated. While you can use the manual tire pressure monitor at the gas station, it’s easier and more accurate to use a digital tire pressure gauge (I have a cheap one like this one). If you haven’t had your vehicle’s tires rotated and aligned recently, get that done. Tires that are not properly aligned can affect steering and suspension. Experts advise getting tires balanced every 5,000 miles or every six months.
3. Be sure you have a valid roadside assistance plan:
Whether you buy roadside assistance through your auto insurance company or a private automobile association, make sure you have someone you can call 24 hours a day in case you are locked out, get a flat tire, or need other assorted non-emergency automotive help. If you have a new or leased car, roadside assistance may be included by the manufacturer for the first 3-5 years.
4. Charge your cell phone and pack a charger:
Simple, but so important! You have to be able to call for help.
5. Pack an emergency kit:
I always keep a zippered tote bag in my trunk that acts as my auto emergency kit and mobile earthquake kit (#CaliforniaLife). It’s stocked with some basic first aid supplies (adhesive bandages, gauze, tape, alcohol wipes), two large bottles of water, several granola bars, an old blanket, a flashlight, new batteries, etc.
What things do you do before leaving on a road trip?
Photo source: Nationwide.
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