10 tips for a safer road trip
Ready to hit the open road and get away from it all? Whether you’re road-tripping across the country or just heading up north for a long weekend, check these 10 to-dos off your list for smooth sailing:
- Check your fluids. If you’re almost due for an oil change, plan to have it done before you head out. While you’re at it, have your brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and power-steering fluid checked, too.
- Top up your windshield washer fluid. And be sure to keep an extra bottle of your favourite weather-appropriate washer fluid formula in your trunk.
- Replace beat-up wiper blades. If it starts raining when you’re on the road, you’ll want a clear view — especially in unfamiliar territory. Be sure to replace worn wiper blades before your trip or keep an extra set in your trunk.
- Flash your lights. Before you head out, make sure all of your vehicle’s lights are working, including your brake lights, turn signals, headlights, taillights, and lights on any trailer or cargo you’re towing. You should also make sure that none of the warning lights on your dash are lit up.
- Test your tires. To avoid any tire blow-outs or flats, check your tire pressure and tread depth, and consider having your tires rotated if you’re nearing the end of the manufacturer’s recommended rotation period.
- Fill up the tank. Just to be safe, it’s best to keep your gas tank at least halfway full when you’re driving in an unfamiliar area. It could be a while before you find the next gas station, especially in remote or rural locations.
- Charge your batteries. If you’re using a battery-operated GPS or a navigation app on your phone, make sure it’s fully charged before you get on the road. You could also consider picking up a portable charger that works in your car and backing up your maps ahead of time (or printing off paper copies) in case you find yourself in a remote area with limited service.
- Keep it clean. Dusty roads can do a number on your view. Before you get going, thoroughly clean all of your vehicle’s windows — and keep a bottle of glass cleaner and some paper towels on hand in case you need to de-dust again down the road.
- Stock up on supplies. While a winter driving emergency kit is essential in the colder months, warmer days still require some emergency supplies. Keep some non-perishable snacks and bottled water in your vehicle — and don’t forget pet food and a water bowl for Fido. A set of jumper cables, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a warm blanket could come in handy, too.
- Pack light. After you pile your bags into the back of your vehicle, take a seat, buckle up, and make sure you can safely check your blind spots and see what’s behind you in your rearview mirror. If your view is blocked by a suitcase or paddleboard, you’ll need to leave something behind — or consider buying or renting a rooftop cargo carrier.
If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your car insurance policy, reach out to your group’s licensed broker to make sure you have the coverage you need for your trip — and keep their phone number on hand in case you need to make a claim when you’re out on the road.
Want to help your fellow road-trippers and weekend warriors stay safe on the road this season? Share these 10 steps to road trip prep on Facebook or Twitter.