School is out, states and cities are starting to open up, and we are all ready for a summer vacation. After all, don’t you think we deserve it after everything our country has been going through in the last few months? Summer travel will be different, though, that’s for sure. When you’re ready to get back on the road, start with 5 simple steps to get your car ready for summer travel.
First, with COVID-19 cases reported in every state at this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing as travel “increases your chances of getting and spreading Covid-19.” Americans should heed all official warnings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Looking forward, AAA predicts that when it is safe to travel vacationers will prefer mostly local and regional destinations. They foresee that as people take off for vacation, a majority will bypass airplanes and take the family vehicle instead – especially while gas is at the lowest point we have seen in decades.
The call of the open road is strong, and it can be tough to resist the urge to hop into your car. It is estimated that 73% of Americans cite a road trip as their favorite way to spend a vacation. If you count yourself among these travelers, you can take a few short steps to make sure your vehicle is ready, when the time comes, for your Great American Road Trip.
5 Steps to Take Before Your Summer Road Trip
Here are some steps you should take before heading out on the open road.
1. Pack Supplies
While getting lost might be a thing of the past with GPS on our smartphones, you’ll never regret being well prepared for your trip.
- Roadside emergency kit
- Bottles of water
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes
- Toilet paper
- Bug spray
- Leatherman or swiss army type of knife
- Pen or pencil and a notebook
- Games for the kids (and highly distracted adults!)
- Phone chargers
- Good road trip playlist
- Snacks, drinks and a small cooler
2. Check Tires
There’s more to your tires than you might realize. These 5 facts will get you educated quickly.
- Before your trip, inspect all tires, air pressure, and tread depth.
- Did you know, tire pressure can change by 1psi for every 10 degrees of temperature change? This is especially important in cold climates – it’s worth the extra step to check.
- Make sure to check the spare.
- The tire pressures are typically listed on the driver side door jam.
3. Check Fluids
Keeping fluids at proper levels not only keeps your car running properly; it improves fuel efficiency. Here’s an overview of the car fluids you need to stay on top of.
- Engine Oil
- Transmission fluid
- Steering fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Coolant – antifreeze
- Windshield washer fluid…and your wiper blades
4. Take Care of the Basics
You’ll get on the road faster when you take care of the basics – make sure your oil is changed on schedule and keep your gas tank filled.
- Check when an oil change is due it’s better to get it changed early rather than late.
- Start your trip with a full tank of gas and, to keep your vehicle running at its best, and to prevent expensive repairs, avoid running on low fuel levels.
5. Stay Healthy and Safe
Avoid travel until it’s safe to hit the road and be sure to follow federal, state, and local guidelines for COVID-19. When you’re ready to get on the road:
- Bring protective face coverings and use in accordance with federal, state, and local policies.
- Have available hand sanitizer and other disinfectant products to regularly keep surfaces clean.
- Clean the surfaces of your own vehicle – handles, dashboard, and especially the steering wheel, because research shows your steering wheel is likely dirtier than a toilet seat?
What to Do If You Break Down
Don’t let putting off your summer maintenance cause a breakdown. However, in the event, you do break down, please remember these steps. Your very first breakdown will be a little scary, however, it’s important to stay calm and remember these important safety tips:
- Get your car off the road
- Call for help
- Advise others that you’re in trouble
- Stay with your vehicle
- Use common sense
When its safe and you’re ready for travel, Openbay, the online automotive service marketplace, is here to help by connecting you with a trustworthy automotive service center near you to get your car summer travel-ready.
Written by Rob Grant, Automotive Operations Manager at Openbay. Rob is an ASE Certified Technician and frequent contributor to this blog, specializing in all things automotive service and repair.