The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released its list of Cool Tips for a Safe Summer Trip. Following these tips could help avoid a breakdown or even a highway collision. First, before you embark on a summer road trip, check for recalls. NHTSA.gov/recalls allows you to search for recalls using your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Next, it is a good idea to get your car serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular maintenance such as oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations can help avoid problems on the road.
In addition, before leaving on a road trip, travelers should check the status of the following items:
- Air conditioner: Without a properly working A/C unit summer travelers could be exposed to extreme temperatures;
- Cooling system: Your vehicle must have the proper amount of antifreeze in the radiator in order to continue to run smoothly. Check the coolant level to make sure it does not need to be flushed or refilled;
- Fluid levels: Antifreeze is not the only fluid that should be checked. Summer travelers should also note the fluid levels of brakes, automatic transmission or clutch, power steering, and window washer. It is also recommended that drivers check the reservoirs and pipes for leaks;
- Wiper blades: Following a long winter, it is a good idea to find out if new wind shield wipers are needed. Maintaining adequate windshield wipers can help drivers see hazards on the highways. Further, drivers may want to consider a water repellant such as RainX for their windshield;
- Floor mats: Never remove or stack floor mats. Doing so could interfere with a driver’s ability to operate the pedals correctly. In addition, do not use floor mats that are not intended for your vehicle. Refer to the manufacturer’s guide if you have any questions;
- Lights: Check all lights on your vehicle. In addition to the headlights and brake lights, make sure your vehicle’s turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights are working. If you are towing a trailer, make sure it has break lights and turn signals as required by law;
- Emergency road kit: Every vehicle should have a kit including the following items: cell phone and charger, first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, tire gauge, maps, and nonperishable food;
- Tires: Tire inflation should be kept at the level recommended by the manufacturer per the owner’s manual. A tire gauge should be used to ensure the tire has the proper air pressure. Further, travelers should be on the lookout for tread wear. Many tires have a wear bar that indicates when the tire should be changed. Finally, travelers should make sure their vehicle’s spare tire is in place and maintained properly. Visit gov/tires for more information.
After you have finished making sure the above list of items is in proper working condition, remember that safety should be the top priority during the trip. The driver should always wear a seatbelt and request that any passengers must do the same. It is recommended that any child under the age of 13 should not ride in the front seat. Further, the driver should make sure that every child has the properly-sized car seat and that it is secured.
After completing this checklist, you are well on your way to a safe summer road trip!