This post is part of a paid partnership with Cooper Tires, which provided information for this story. Learn more about protecting your tires and your car by following the hashtag #TakeOnPotholes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Hitting the open road during the warmer months 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? With advice from the folks at Cooper Tire, we’ve put together this list of 7 tips to make sure you have fun and travel safely.
In the Boston suburbs, the snow has melted and the damage from the winter months is everywhere. Cracks, crevices, and potholes create a minefield I navigate every day. In April, we had our main “road trip” car inspected. I found out that 2 of our tires were nearly bald on the outer edges. It was horrifying to find out that I was putting my family at risk by driving on unsafe tires. I had no idea that the potholes I encountered daily were putting so much wear and tear on my tires.
Travel Safely & Have Fun with 7 Road Trip Safety Tips
Inspect Your Vehicle
Jesseca Egerton, Director of Brand Development at Cooper Tires says, “To ensure that you are treating your vehicle with the best care, it is important to make sure that all parts of the car, including the tires, are regularly checked and well maintained. This includes avoiding potholes while driving whenever possible to do so safely, or inspecting tires if they come in contact with potholes.” Look at some of the crazy potholes in my area.
Think about it, your tires are the only parts of your vehicle that come in contact with and keep you connected to the road. For safety and good performance, you must properly care for, maintain and inspect your tires.
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.
Even if a road trip is not in your future, keep an eye on your tires. According to Cooper Tire, it only takes 10 minutes. What you need to do:
- Check the pressure.
- Check the tread depth.
- Examine the overall condition for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, irregular wear, and bulges.
Learn How to Hit a Pothole
Did you know there is a “right way” to hit a pothole? Even if you don’t have a lot of potholes in your area, keep this in mind when traveling, especially to any roads that get snow in the winter.
Obviously, the easiest way to avoid pothole damage is to avoid hitting one in the first place. Scan the road for trouble spots and keep out of puddles where potholes “hide.” Sometimes it is impossible to avoid hitting a pothole. If this happens, safely slow down as much as possible and release the breaks just before making contact with the pothole. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds increases your chance of damage to your tires, wheels, and suspension.
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. Don’t forget things like a flashlight, blankets, and some basic tools. Also, bring water and extra snacks, just in case. Also, consider joining a program that provides roadside assistance.
Prepare your entertainment options
For our family, there is nothing worse than depending on a standard AM/FM radio. Be Sure to load up your smartphone with all of your favorite music. You can also create playlists on your favorite music streaming services. Podcasts can be fun too. 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.