Getting Road Trip Ready
If you’re the veteran of many summer road trips you may have the art of preparation and packing down pat. If you’re like me you might have found yourself under way and suddenly wishing you’d brought along or looked after that ONE thing. With that in mind, I’ll review vehicle readiness basics and follow that up list of some of the less than obvious “essentials.”
Making sure that your vehicle is in good working order should be a no brainer. If you follow the manufacturer’s recommend maintenance it’s very likely that you’re ready to roll. However, as robust and reliable as most modern cars are there are a few key items you ought to check. Remember: you’ll probably be spending a lot of your journey travelling at highway speeds. That makes the performance of key systems and components that much more important. Realistically most of us are not going to be doing any of our own auto repairs or maintenance but we should able look for signs that tell us our car needs attention.
Are your tires able to carry you where you need to go and back safely? Check the tread depth then give us a call. Or drop by. We should be able to give you an idea of how many km they’re still good for.
Check the pressure on all of your tires. Don’t forget the spare. Check the tires when cold and follow the recommendations that are displayed on the door jam or in your owner’s manual. Don’t inflate the tires to the maximum capacity listed on the tire. Temporary spares usually require much higher pressures. Don’t rely entirely on your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (if you have it.) These systems vary in terms of their thresholds and sensitivity. This is also a good time to check on the general condition of your tires, looking for any damage or signs of unusual wear.
Have you heard any unusual noises of felt any strange behaviour under foot? When your brakes were last serviced and assessed what was the condition of the pads? Give you service advisor a call and let her know how far you’ll be travelling. She can give you an estimate of how much life is left in them.
If most of your day to day driving occurs in the city on well-lit roads you might not notice if your headlights aren’t performing up to snuff, especially the high beams. You don’t want to be travelling on unfamiliar roads in the dark with less than optimal lighting. Check your turn signals, hazards, and brake lights too. (Are your lights hazy or yellow? We can help. Learn about our headlight restoration service.)
Everyone driver should be able to check their oil level. It’s a simple task and one that should be performed a couple of weeks before you head out on the road. What is your Honda’s Maintenance Minder telling you about your oil life? Even if you haven’t quite hit the 15% mark yet but have a lot of km ahead of you an oil change may be in order. Check with your service advisor.
Okay. I’ll admit it. We have A/C Performance Test on sale right now but if there ever is a time when your A/C is most needed, and working its hardest, it’s on a plus 30 day with a car full of passengers. A hot car will make for unhappy campers. If your A/C hasn’t been checked in three years we recommend a performance test.
THE (OFTEN FORGOTTEN) STUFF
Are your license, registration, insurance and passport up to date and do you have up to date COPIES in your glove compartment or wallet? I set off on a road trip with a friend some years ago. She was travelling to visit her sick brother. She needed company and another driver. I had let my license expire. I found a work around but needless to say my friend was not impressed. Don’t be like me. Make sure your documents are in order, especially if you’re travelling out of province and out of country.
Paper maps: GPS and navigation systems are great but should the signal be lost, a hard copy will provide a backup.
Consider taking a hard copy of emergency contacts and a list of your medications. And did you remember to put your emergency info on your phone?
First Aid Kit
My car’s first aid kit has sat in the trunk for a couple of years now, at least. Take the time to make sure that any medications haven’t passed their expiry date. Also, if you have needed to use it don’t forget to re-stock it.
Maybe this one should have gone to the top of the list. An empty hand towel dispenser is annoying. Running out of toilet paper at your next pit stop could border on catastrophic!
Towels and Blankets
All kinds of minor messes have the potential to materialize on long trip, especially if kids and dogs are involved. There’s nothing like a fluffy towel to mop up unexpected messes. Blankets will provide warmth and comfort should find yourself stranded.
Plastic Bags, Garbage Bags and Plastic Gloves
For containing messes (unexpected and expected.)
Flashlight and Batteries
I know what you’re thinking. “My cell phone has flashlight.” That’s great in a pinch but its range is limited and I’d rather save my phone’s juice for emergency calls.
Jump Start Kit
Jumper cables won’t do you much good if you don’t have a source of battery power to draw on. Jump start kits include the cables and the battery plus they’re a handy for charging your personal electronics in an emergency.
Swiss Army Knife
Because you just never know what you’re going to run into and it beats packing a tool box.
Emergency Cash and Coins
For those times when electronics fail us.
What other not so obvious essentials are on your road trip list? I’m sure you have some great suggestions for your fellow travelers. We look forward to hearing from you and passing those ideas along.