Is your car ready for a long, hot Indiana summer? The summer months can wreak as much havoc on your car as the brutal winter ones. We want to make sure your car is in its best shape for summer road trips.
Your objective is to have an enjoyable trip, free of the hassles and delays that result from car trouble on the road. Here’s how to make sure that your trip is a pleasant one.
The first order of business is to take a good look at the vehicle you are planning to take on your trip. Is it up to the experience you are planning? Here are some potential issues that should give you second thoughts about its fitness for your excursion:
- It is very old
- It has very high mileage
- It has not been reliable lately
- It uses large quantities of oil/coolant/other fluids
- It needs some major repairs
- You don’t feel safe driving it
If you question the ability of this vehicle to get you to your destination and back without mechanical incidents, don't use it. A better solution is to rent a vehicle for the trip. You can get the exact size vehicle that you need for the amount of people and stuff you will be taking along.
It will be new or almost new, and it should give you a trouble-free ride. If you compare the cost of renting a car to the potential costs of a major breakdown, not to mention the time lost while you wait for it to be fixed, it’s a very reasonable value proposition.
Have your car inspected by your mechanic
If you're the type of driver who pays attention to the mechanical condition of your car, you probably know if it’s in good enough shape to make the trip. You have been checking the fluids and the tires, and have been diligent about maintaining it according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. If everything looks good, and there are no obvious problems, that’s great.
But if you are not totally sure whether your car is ready for your upcoming trip, you should call your mechanic and have it checked out before you go. If there are any issues, they can be fixed before you leave, so they don’t cause problems during your travels.
If you are close to a service interval, have the work done now. Other things that should be checked are your cooling system, your air conditioning, your battery, your belts and hoses, your tires (including the spare), your lights, and your wipers.
Make provisions for roadside assistance
If you are already a member of an auto club, or your vehicle manufacturer is providing you with roadside assistance services, then you are prepared if something goes wrong with your car along the way. If not, consider getting some type of coverage so that you can quickly summon help in the event of a flat tire, a dead battery, or some other type of problem.
Things to take with you for a more pleasant trip
Let’s now turn from the vehicle to the people traveling inside of it. You will be spending many hours together, so it is in everyone’s best interest to have whatever you need to make this time as calm, relaxing, and drama-free as possible. With this in mind, here are some important items to bring along with you:
- Cell phone chargers, with multiple ports if you have more phones on board than power outlets
- Each person’s preferred snacks and beverages in a cooler
- Bottled water for drinking and rinsing
- Napkins, tissues, paper towels, liquid soap, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes for cleaning up
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for protection from the sun’s rays
- First-aid kit
- Blankets and travel pillows for napping passengers
For young children, plenty of diapers, plus their favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, music, and video content – as well as earbuds or headphones!
A trash bag for your car. Place all of your garbage into it, not on the floor of your car. This will keep your car tidy, while also saving you from a lot of carpet cleaning later. Whenever you stop for gas, empty it out.
When packing, remember that less is more
Research the weather patterns at your destination and base your wardrobe on the expected conditions. If you’ll be in a warm climate, leave the dressy and heavy clothes at home. Coordinate tops and bottoms so all your shirts go with all your shorts/slacks/skirts. This gives you lots of combinations. And remember, it’s OK to wear each item more than once – the more often you wear something, the less you have to pack!
Emphasize dark colors and prints – these are less likely to show the inevitable stains and soil. Quick-drying fabrics that resist wrinkling will give you the best service. If you need to do laundry during your trip, you can easily find a local laundromat.
Pack your most comfortable clothes and footwear. This is not the time to break in new shoes! If rain is expected, waterproof your shoes with a silicone spray. If the nights will be cool, a sweatshirt or jacket makes sense. Make the jacket a water-repellent one and you’re covered in case of rain.
Be prepared during your trip
Remember, your primary objective is for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable trip. This applies to your time in the car, during meals, at your lodging, and at any attractions you visit.
Observe safe driving practices
If you have more than one capable driver, switch drivers at every bathroom or gas stop. This will keep everyone alert and fresh. If there’s only one driver, make sure that he or she does not get drowsy behind the wheel. Stop for a bite to eat, for a short nap, or call it a day.
Clean your windshield, windows and mirrors at every gas stop or as needed. Check your tires and your fluids each morning before you start out, and add air or top up fluids as necessary.
Stretching your travel dollars
Here are some money-saving tips to help you get more vacation for your money:
- Search the internet for the best hotel and motel deals, and call the places directly to compare prices
- Get a suite with a kitchen instead of several individual rooms, if you have a larger group
- Consider renting a house or apartment to stay at, for something roomier and more charming
- Stay at a place that includes a free breakfast
- Buy breakfast food at a local supermarket and eat in your room
- Have your main meal at lunchtime and have a light dinner – it will cost much less
- Buy takeout food from an upscale market and have a picnic in a local park
- Use a gas price comparison phone app to find the lowest gas prices
- Use a restaurant comparison phone app to check ratings and prices
- Get discount tickets for theme parks and other attractions through your auto club or credit union (if you are a member)
- Program in some downtime, which will relax everyone and doesn’t cost anything!
After you return home, do your car a solid
The summer road trip that you successfully completed would not have been possible without an outstanding performance by your European vehicle.
It carried you and everyone else all those many miles, on highways, back roads, and may have even done some off-roading! You ate in it and you slept in it. Through rain, mud, dust, and summer heat, it kept you safe and brought you back alive. It deserves a thorough cleaning, inside and out.
We can help you with a full detailing to restore your vehicle to a like-new appearance. You’ll also feel great when you’re behind the wheel, thinking of all those wonderful memories you made during your trip!
*source: Repair Pal. We are a certified Repair Pal authorized repair shop.