Heading out on a car trip? We’ve compiled some car tasks to do before you get on the road to make your trip safe and comfortable.
1. Schedule a tune-up for your car a week or so before departing. Why? It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing your car will run correctly. If you recently had a tune-up, make sure everything is in working order:
- Battery (should be replaced after 5+ years)
- Tire pressure
- Tire tread and traction (especially important in winter)
- Windshield wipers
- Lights (headlights, turn signals, brakes, hazards)
- Fluids (oil, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gas, etc.)
2. Pack a car emergency kit. These are your “just in case” items to have on hand. Read Create an Emergency Kit for Your Car to learn how to put a kit together. Extra tip: pack two rolls of toilet paper – one for the boys and one for the girls – just in case the public restroom is out! Also, download the free Red Cross first aid app for information on what to do.
WHN TIP – Minimum Items: At the very least, have a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, a few quarts of oil, cell phone and charger, food, water, a first aid kit and any other special needs for you and your family.
WHN TIP – Road Help: Worried about having trouble on the road? Consider signing up for a group like AAA to help you if you need roadside assistance. Membership usually requires paying a small fee and you’ll receive other discounts and benefits as well. Also, check your car insurance. You may have roadside assistance with your policy.
3. Review your auto insurance policy before heading out on the road, especially what is covered in the event of an accident. Contact your insurance agent if you have any questions (remember to bring along their contact details with you on your trip!).
4. Map out your route before you go. Plan rest stops, eating stops and other points of interest. You might want to calculate your mileage as well so you’ll know where and when you’ll need to stop for gas.
WHN TIP – The Road Atlas: Even if you’re using GPS, it’s always a good idea to have a map or road atlas handy in case you’re in an area where the signal is limited or non-existent. Road atlases are a great resource for road trip. They’ll usually mark major exits – important to know when driving through a less populous or more rural area of the country. Online resources for road maps and atlases include OnTheWorldMap, Rand McNally Maps, Online Atlas, Trip Info and Michelin. Looking for a map app? This article lists some of the top ones.
5. Know the traffic laws for the areas you’ll be driving through. They can vary from state to state and sometimes city to city, especially regarding speed limits and cell phone use while driving. This link covers traffic laws by state. The New York Times has a great article about different driving terms across the country (Michigan left, jughandles, etc.).
Photo Credit: Alejandro Salinas