Road Trip! How to Prep Before Hitting the Road
When’s the last time you hit the wide, open road, windows down, with your favorite tunes playing? Heading out in the direction of some unfamiliar destination is about as exhilarating as it gets. More than ever, people need to get away this summer. And in case it’s been a while, they should keep in mind that prepping your car for a long drive is essential to enjoy a safer and more relaxing trip.
Is Your Car Road Ready?
Even if your car has been inspected by a trusted mechanic, it’s still a good idea to understand the key elements of road trip preparation and maintenance:
Tire treads. Is there a sufficient amount of tread left on all four tires? Worn out tires can be dangerous, especially if you’ll be spending many hours on the highway. If your tires need to be replaced, better to do it before your trip than after.
Full tires. A full set of tires will give you better gas mileage, but be sure not to overfill them. The label inside your car door or gas filler door should have the proper pressure numbers.
Break and power steering fluids. Top off any fluids if necessary. Popular Mechanics recommends flushing the system with fresh brake fluid every 24,000 miles and changing the power steering fluid every 50,000 miles.
Battery inspection. A car battery typically lasts several years or more, but lifespans can differ greatly. A volt-ohm meter is an inexpensive way to measure the voltage of an aging battery and troubleshoot any issues. The battery should also be clean and free of corrosion before you hit the road.
Oil level. Always start a long driving trip with a full level of motor oil. Running out of oil can do serious damage to your engine and render your car undriveable.
Washer fluid. You never realize how important washer fluid is until you’re heading down the highway, unable to clean a streaked or dirty windshield. Replenishing it can be done by pouring a small amount of concentrate in the washer tank and adding water (check the bottle for the proper concentrate to water ratio).
Be Familiar with Routes
Heading into the unknown is part of what makes a road trip so much fun, but it does bring with it some risk. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the routes you’ll be taking, as well as your destination.
A lack of directions is an understandable oversight in this day and age. Now that drivers have become so dependent on GPS, it can be tempting to hit the road without a full understanding of where we’re headed. But remember that GPS gets its signals from satellites 12,000 miles away. Satellite movement is just one of many factors that can cause GPS tracking problems.
With that in mind, study all the routes you’ll be taking beforehand so you have a sense of what to expect. Make a note of turnoff markers to look for and what pitstops you’ll be making. Make sure all your routes are mapped into your GPS before leaving. It may make sense to print out your directions and bring physical maps as a backup in case you need them.
Finally, be prepared for any tollways, and inquire about road and weather conditions where you’re headed since both might be quite different than what you’re used to at home.
Does Your Auto Insurance Include Liability Coverage?
There are several insurance considerations when taking a long road trip. If you’re traveling with someone, are you prepared for them to take the wheel? At a minimum, you’ll need liability insurance so all drivers are protected.
Consult with your insurer about adding any uninsured drivers to your policy. If your travel companion is at fault in an accident, you’ll want coverage for costs claimed by other drivers for any injuries or damage. If you don’t currently have auto insurance, a short-term insurance policy can provide comprehensive coverage for a month or longer.
Out-of-State Roadside Assistance
The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere without roadside assistance. Make sure your auto insurance includes roadside assistance coverage. To be on the safe side, call your insurer to find out how it works where you’re headed, as some of the finer details may vary state to state.
At Amigo Insurance, we are committed to finding you the best coverage at competitive rates – for travel as well as protection at home. Get a free quote here or contact us at 773-847-9000, where our agents are ready to help.