On a road trip, some mishaps are also unavoidable; others can be prevented with a little pre-planning.

On a road trip, some mishaps are also unavoidable; others can be prevented with a little pre-planning.

Preparing for a safe road trip

By Blair Qualey

So many things can happen on a summer road trip – a relaxing day at the beach, enjoying a delicious ice cream on a hot day, and spending time with family and friends.

Unfortunately, some road mishaps are also unavoidable. For example, a transport truck speeds by and a rock suddenly hits and cracks your windshield. Another common problem – a car tire quickly goes flat after going over a sharp object on the road.

Still, a lot of road troubles are preventable.

Check under the hood

A car or truck, regardless of its age, requires regular maintenance. If you haven’t done so lately, book an appointment with your new car dealer to ensure the brake fluid, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid are at appropriate levels.

An automotive technician can also show you how to fill up the windshield wiper fluid (if you need a little help). And if driving an electric vehicle, checking brakes and tire condition is important too.

A tire check is also a good idea while your vehicle is in the shop. Tires can be checked for any punctures and filled to the required PSI (pounds per square inch). Did you know that tire pressure increases in hot temperatures? An overinflated tire can cause braking problems, wear down the tread, and possibly reduce fuel efficiency.

Also be aware that since tires inflate in hot weather and do the opposite in cold weather, the PSI is also different for the summer and winter.

The trunk isn’t just for luggage…

The good news about summer is that you don’t need to pack a lot of heavy warm clothes. That means there’s more space in the back for road trip essentials. The longer the road trip, the greater chance of encountering different weather conditions and the dreaded highway construction zones.

Here are some ideas about what to put in the trunk:

  • A first aid kit
  • Plenty of water for everyone in the vehicle
  • Non-perishable food that won’t melt in the heat, like granola bars
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A blanket
  • A waterproof jacket and/or umbrella
  • Comfortable footwear, like sneakers, in case you need to leave the vehicle and walk
  • A spare tire, lug wrench and tire jack
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid

When was the last time you looked in the glove compartment/box? Make sure your car registration and insurance information are there – and up to date.

Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip so you’ll be able to drive safely and not get too annoyed when everyone is singing Bohemian Rhapsody – for the third time in an hour.

Happy Road Tripping!

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca.

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