Memorial Day Weekend is upon us which means that summer is unofficially here! Whether you are heading to the beach, the wilderness, or a BBQ at your friend’s new condo, a healthy car is probably a prerequisite for your weekend plans. Here’s a handy list to prepare for smooth driving ahead.
It is possible to pre-emptively stop flats before they turn into a major detour. Check your tires to see if anything looks off, such as weird bulges or uneven tire wear. To be extra safe pick up a tire gauge, which could cost less than a rest stop meal and tells you exactly what your tire pressure is. Your tires should be inflated according to the vehicle manufacturer recommendations, which can be found in your owner’s manual or on the inside of your car’s door. And as Mechanic Matt suggests, make sure your spare tire is also inflated because it can leak slowly over time.
We all face the same road trip conundrum: how do you know when to fill up your gas? What if gas is cheaper in the next town you pass? Don’t wait until your tank is empty because you might be stuck going to the most expensive gas station. Check a site like GasBuddy ahead of time to find the areas that have the best prices along your route. While you’re at it, check your washer fluid levels too so you can refill if needed and aren’t stuck with a bug-laden windshield.
Be (extra) prepared
Even if you take the time to make sure your car is in tip-top condition before a long drive, you could still hit unexpected roadblocks. Keep some basic tools in your car, such as a jack wrench, lug wrench, jumper cables, and a flashlight. A first aid kit is good to have on hand also. And don’t forget those extra snacks in case you get stuck in traffic; no one likes a hangry driver. Check out our road trip checklist to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Know your way
Whether you use an app on your smartphone or the old-fashioned paper map, familiarize yourself with the route before you step on the gas. Checking directions while driving is considered distracted driving; taking your eyes off the road for even a few moments could cause an accident. Waze is a great app to use because it updates your route in real-time based on traffic patterns and user-submitted tips, and you can set directions to be read out loud so you never have to look at your phone.
It is important to note that these tips are in addition to the comprehensive check-up that your mechanic should be doing throughout the year. Your brakes, cooling system, transmission service, oil levels and exhaust system can all deteriorate over time, and if you aren’t confident about the inner workings of your car it might be best to leave this stuff to an expert. Just make sure you are staying on top of the maintenance schedule suggested by your manufacturer. If you have the Metromile app, you can check your car’s health.
Planning to road trip more this summer? We will be compiling these and other tips into a road trip guide which will be fueled by the Metromile community. If you’d like to contribute to the guide, tag your photos, tips and more with #HowIRoadtrip. Happy travels!