Hitting the open road is the quintessential experience for American families. It’s time to roll down the window, turn up the music and have a cooler full of drinks and snacks. The most important component of a road trip is obviously your car. Is it ready to take on the wear and tear of summer travel? Here are 7 tips to make sure your car is road trip ready.
Service Your Car
There is probably nothing worse than having a break down on a hot day. Get your car checked before you head out on your journey. Have your mechanic check your brakes, tires, fluid levels, etc. Be sure you have the battery checked and have jumper cables and a fully inflated spare tire.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Check to make sure your first aid kit is adequately stocked. Don’t have one? You can usually find a good one at your pharmacy or big box store. It’s pretty easy to make your own based on your family’s needs as well. Pack other items for emergencies like a flashlight, blanket, and some basic tools. Also, bring water and extra snacks, just in case.
Check Your Tires
Our Honda Pilot has been our trusty road trip vehicle for over 10 years. Before this road trip season, we realized that we needed new tires. How did we know? It’s not always easy to know if you need new tires just by looking at them. Instead, do the coin test to makes sure you have at least 2/32″ of tread. Ideally 4/32″ for rain and 5/32″ for snow.
I was thrilled when the folks at Tire Rack contacted me to give their service a try. It’s the perfect way to shop for tires online and schedule an installation location that works best for you. We even found an installer that came out to our home.
There are a lot of tires in this world. They all look about the same to me so I’d have no idea about what to choose. Should I choose something cheap from the guy down the street? A name that sounds familiar or more of what I bought last time. Tire Rack’s Tire Decision Guide is built to help you find what tire is best for how, where and what you drive. They have decades of tire experience and have driven on hundreds of tires in all weather conditions to help provide you with a personalized recommendation of what tire will work best for your needs.
All you have to do is tell them what vehicle you drive, and answer a few simple questions about what conditions you will encounter, along with what characteristics are most important to you, and the Tire Decision Guide does the rest. Think of it like your Tire Concierge. The process really put my mind at ease about this important decision.
Tire Rack also sells wheels, brakes, car accessories and more. They also recommend installers in your area. We were thrilled to work with My Tire Guys. They are a mobile installer so they were able to install our new tires right in our driveway. How cool is that?
Prepare your entertainment options
Nothing worse than a road trip depending on regular radio. Be Sure to load up your phone with all of your favorite music. Create playlists on your favorite streaming service like Spotify. Have the kids download movies and music as well. Also encourage the kids to go unplugged with games like car bingo, 20 questions and write in road trip journals.
Clean Your Car Inside and Out
By the end of the school year, my car is a mess. Old gum wrappers, water bottles and tissues are just a few of the items I find under the seats. If you can afford it, I highly recommend springing for a full car detail. The interior will be as close to new as possible. It’s a great way to start fresh. It’s also a good idea to purge your car every few days of trash buildup. I find starting clean helps inspire the entire family to keep it that way during our trip.
Try to make a stop every 3-4 hours for bathroom breaks, stretching and a bit of exercise to get the blood flowing. Bring a ball or a frisbee for easy pit stop play. If you can, find a few “off the beaten path” stops to surprise the kids. We once found the longest continuous candy counter in the US. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled!
Be Patient and Have Fun
Remember why you set off on a road trip in the first place. You are bound to hit traffic, but don’t let it get you down. It may make sense to travel early in the morning or late at night to avoid the rush with minimal stress. The license plate game is a great one for traffic jams. See how many states you can find or find every letter in the alphabet.
More from Tire Rack:
Buying tires has become such a grudge purchase for so many people. We know they are expensive in many cases, but the experience doesn’t have to be bad. You don’t have to worry about the questionable advice you might get, Tire Rack has facts, information and first-hand experience to help guide drivers through the process, You don’t have to settle for whatever happens to be on the shelf at the local store. Tires make a difference and are the only thing between your vehicle and the road, so are an important link in the chain of safety devices built you’re your vehicle.
Have other tips for successful road trips?