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During the holiday months, my family seems to travel a lot more than usual. There are people and places that we love to visit this time of year, and have many holiday traditions we usually keep up with.
Having our vehicle in tip top shape is so important, especially when we will be traveling. Here are some tips on preparing your car for holiday travels.
1. Always check your fluids
Making sure that your oil, wiper fluid and other lubricants are clean, full and functioning is essential for safe travel.
2. Check tires and tire pressure
Low tire pressure can cause blow outs which can result in accidents. Invest in an inexpensive tire gauge to check your pressure. If you unsure of your proper tire pressure, refer to the owner manual or check with the vehicle manufacturer website. You can also ask a local mechanic. Most gas stations and some car washes have free air pumps that you can use to inflate your tires.
3. Inspect all lights
Make sure all lights, including the turn signals are properly functioning and are clean of debris, so that other drivers are aware of your intentions as you drive and see your vehicle on the road. You also always want to have a well lit path when you travel to keep you safe and alert of dangers that may be in the road including broken down vehicles, animals or even people.
4. Clean the interior of the vehicle
Having a clean vehicle will give you a comfortable ride and make it easier to pack your vehicle. Check your trunk, under and in seats for papers, old food or trash. No one wants to take a long trip in a smelly, dirty vehicle.
5. Make an emergency travel kit
This is an important part of any travel, especially during Winter months.
Here are essential items you should have in your kit according to Division of Motor Vehicle:
First Aid Kit that includes band-aids, hand sanitizer, antispectic antibiotic ointiment, bug spray, aspirin, cotton balls, gauze pads, tweezers, bandana and an Ace bandage.
Other items to keep in your emergency kit should include:
fire extinguisher, flares, jumper cables, rain ponchos, tarp, flashlight with spare batteries, rags, duct tape, baby wipes, water, snacks, multipurpose tool.
During winter months include:
Ice scraper, cat litter (for getting out of ice) battery operated fan, blankets, warm clothing.
6. Choose entertainment
This is essential if you have little ones and will be on the road for long periods of time. Keep entertaining music, movies, handheld electronics, books and car games handy for when the kids and adults begin to get antsy.
7. Fill up your gas tank
Make sure to start your trip out with a full tank of gas and try not to let your tank go below a 1/4 tank. I personally do not let my tank go below a 1/2 tank. Here is why you shouldn't. First of all, your gauge may not be functioning properly and you may have less gas than you think. Also, running out of gas can ruin your car, especially your catalytic converter. Did you know that your gas actually acts as a coolant for electric fuel pump motors? So, not having enough fuel will actually create heat when your pump sucks in air instead of fuel, hence causing the pump to fail or wear.
Another reason to keep fuel levels up is to keep dirt out of the fuel filter to prevent failure. When you run out of gas, your car is obviously going to stop suddenly. If you are on a busy road or highway or in a deserted area, this can be extremely dangerous. Check out these tips to prevent running out of gas from Consumer Reports.
8. Check the weather
Weather changes frequently. If you checked the weather a week or even a few days ago for your destination, check them again. Also, don't forget to check all the areas in between you and your destination point. You can be driving into rain, snow, ice, fog, or even flooding which can be dangerous.
9. Check your route
The last thing you want to do is get lost. Make sure you have the proper address of your destination and make sure that you have placed the proper address into your GPS. I have heard horror stories of people who are visiting a destination and putting the address into their GPS and winding up at the same address and town name in a different state! So, double and triple check that address! Also, check highway websites for road construction and closures. This can save you time and aggravation.
10. Don't forget the pets
Your pets like to be comfortable and well cared for during travel. Be sure to invest in a good carrier. If you don't keep your pet in a carrier when you travel, at least invest in an animal seat belt. Keep lots of blankets, seat protectors, a collapsible bowl and plenty of water on hand for your pet and don't forget their medications, food and favorite toys. You should also have reflective vests for both you and your pet for night walks and a flashlight. If it is winter, be sure to bring your pet's jacket and rain gear. Another essential item to bring is paper towels (in case your pet has an accident), wipes and a towel.
Keeping your family safe is so important. Taking time to check these and any other important factors can give you peace of mind and make your travel experience a better one. Don't forget, if your family needs a vehicle upgrade for future trips, visit Cars.com first. It will make you a smarter vehicle shopper and give you all of the information you need to make the perfect purchase for you.