If you’re taking a holiday road trip, finding the right tech features, and knowing what to check on your family vehicle could be a road trip game changer. Here are a few tips to make sure you have a safe and fun holiday road trip.
First, be sure to check all the essential fluids under the hood – motor oil, brake fluid, coolant, and transmission fluid. If you don’t feel comfortable checking these yourself, take your car to a local shop and have them do it.
Also, don’t forget to check the windshield washer fluid. This is easy to overlook but it can be an important safety feature, especially if you’re travelling in an area where there’s plenty of snow and ice. Most drivers don’t know this, but windshield washer fluid also has a de-icing component. So don’t just add water to your washer fluid reservoir. On some cars, that washer fluid also helps to rinse the headlights. This is especially important when dirt and snow can cover your vehicle’s headlights reducing their effectiveness.
While many of these fluids apply only to gasoline powered cars, washer fluid and brake fluid can also be something you need to maintain even if you have an electric car.
Wipers that Work
Be sure to check the actual wipers themselves. In most climates, those wiper refills should be replaced every year. The rubber should be in good condition, not cracked or stiff, and there shouldn’t be any tears or missing pieces of rubber. Be sure to also check that small rear wiper found on many hatchbacks and SUVs. Often, the rear window has its own reservoir for washer fluid too. Wiper replacement is another of those common automotive maintenance items that’s easy to overlook and is the same whether your car is powered by gasoline or electricity.
Tire pressure is another thing that’s often overlooked. Be sure to inflate your vehicle’s tires to the proper level. Even if the pressure is off just a little in only one tire, that can impact the way your car or truck handles. The last thing you want when driving on snowy, icy, or unfamiliar roads is an added element of unpredictability.
As far as tech goes, there are a few features that can make your road trip much more fun. First, look for a way to connect your phone to the car. This can be via Bluetooth or with an Apple CarPlay connection. While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are very useful for connecting your phone to the car, those features are typically found on cars that are five years old or newer. Still, you can add this to your existing car by replacing your car’s radio head unit with an Apple or Android compatible unit. Alpine makes several aftermarket in-car head units.
In addition, don’t forget to bring the right charging cables for your phone – AND everyone else’s phone in the car. We rely on our phones for quite a bit these days and having it charged up can make the difference between a moderate inconvenience and a truly dangerous situation. Also, it might be worth investing in a portable battery. This can be powerful enough to jump start your car or you can get one that will just charge your phone for a little extra time.
Be sure to keep a safety kit in your trunk too. This should include things like a flashlight, an extra pair of shoes or boots, a blanket or two, some bottled water, snacks and maybe a pair of gloves.
The result is that a little extra work before your trip should make it more enjoyable and safer.
The author of this article, Brian Moody, is Executive Editor for Autotrader and a monthly contributor to YurView’s Creative Living show, airing Sundays at 8:30pm, Mondays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 8pm and Saturdays at 10pm.