Piling the entire family into the car for a summer road trip is as American as...well, baseball and the Fourth of July.
The truth is, though, that annual trek can be stressfulthe packing and loading, the long hours in the car, and the restless kids. But don't forget that safety, from routine auto maintenance to an auto insurance double-check, should be part of your summer road trip routine.
The time for summer auto maintenance is before you hit the road. Spend some time with your car's manual and make sure you really are "good to go." Here's a quick pre-trip to-do list:
- Air Conditioning: When was the last time you had the refrigerant checked?
- Fluids: Check the wiper, transmission, and brake fluid levels.
- Oil: What is that sticker in the upper left of your windshield saying? If it has been more than 3,000 miles since your last oil change, you're probably due.
- Tires: Double-check the air pressure in all of your tires, including the spare. Long hours of pounding the pavement are hard on tires, so check each tire's tread for wear.
- Wipers: Many manufacturers recommend new wipers every six months. But if it was a rough winter, you may need them sooner.
- Antifreeze: Check the hoses, and make sure you don't need to top off the coolant.
- Lights: Make sure every lightheadlights, turn signals, back-up lightsis working. If you're taking half the house with you, be aware that the extra weight in the rear can cause your headlights to shine higher than normal, potentially blinding other drivers momentarily. Which brings us to...
- Packing the car: Make sure items you'll need at a rest stop are easy to find. Avoid packing a lot more weight on one side of the car than the other.
- Documentation: If your glove box resembles a wastebasket, it's time to take out the trash. Keep any service records and make sure your auto insurance coverage card is current.
Keep in mind that this checklist is just the beginningbe sure to consult your owner's manual and mechanic for more information.
If you're traveling for more than a couple hours, think about packing some nonperishable snacks like cereal bars, healthy treats like bananas, and bottled water. Chances are you won't be making as many "snack stops" and you'll have an easier time keeping the backseat snack crowd content.
For long trips, portable DVD players can be nothing short of a miracle.
Putting together an auto emergency kit is a great ideaanytime. You can buy an emergency kit at automotive stores or online, but many drivers prefer to build and tweak their own. Regardless which route you take, necessities include:
- A first-aid kit
- A flashlight and roadside flares
- Jumper cables
- A blanket, spare clothes, and extra gloves
- Extra wiper fluid jug
- Paper towels and rags
- Water and nonperishable food
- A basic toolkit, including pliers, appropriate wrenches, screwdrivers, and a ratchet or socket set
It's also a good idea to tape your auto insurance informationpolicy number, agent's name, etc.to your emergency kit's inside lid.
Another smart idea is joining a motor club, like the Allstate Motor Club
. Motor clubs typically offer protection for flat tires and roadside emergencies that are generally not covered by your regular auto insurance.
To make sure you remember, consider tying an auto insurance review to something like your annual road trip. Take stock of what's changed in your family and consider what impact those changes have on your auto insurance. A new teenage driver, an old car getting even older, a different commutetake a few minutes to make sure your auto insurance is keeping pace with your life.
With innovative features like Accident Forgiveness, Your Choice Auto® offers Allstate's high-quality auto insurance coverage, with better protection if you have an accident and more rewards if you avoid them. Plus, people who switch to Allstate save an average $375 per year*.
Published: June 2011