summer driving safety

Travel Safety during Summer Months

Memorial weekend is here and for many of us, we hopefully get to enjoy some well deserved days off and for most of us, that means the beginning of summer travel. Memorial Day Weekend is the busiest traveled weekends of the year. Millions will be taking to the roads, at estimates of 35 million + or more, this weekend alone. Many take the opportunity to visit their families, beautiful iconic parks, famous landmarks, or just taking shopping trips for catching up on those projects around the home. It is also the official start of summer and more than any other time of the year we will be putting a lot of additional stress on our vehicles, apart from the heat, and long distance travel, short trips are the worst for causing wear and tear on your vehicle. In the event, you do breakdown be sure to have in your car a few essentials. Such as water, snacks, first aid kit, chargers for electronics, paper towels or wet wipes, blankets, distilled water and air gauge for tires and wheel jack for an emergency.
Here at WestTow, it is the kick off to a very busy season for us too, responding to vehicle breakdowns and stranded motorists, as well as car accidents. Some of these situations are preventable, with a little planning and thought about the maintenance of your vehicles. We would like to offer some travel tips and general auto safety guides, to help with making this a safe and happy holiday weekend for our valued customers.
Calculate your fuel costs: based on the expected mileage you will travel. This is particularly important if traveling to remote areas, such as mountains and deserts. Our valued partners, AAA has an online fuel vs mileage calculator and Geico, has an updated map for statewide estimated price per gallon costs. There are several apps available such as Gas Buddy. Also, they offer roadside assistance and travel insurance. Be sure to check that you have your insurance and registration documents located in the car and of course, WestTow’s contact information. We all forget to do this from time to time.
Inspect your vehicle: first by doing an outside inspection. Are your window wipers in good condition, or are they from last year and brittle from weather exposure, replace those if possible. What condition are the windows in? Is there a divot in the windshield that you’ve been meaning to take care of? If you cannot get a service technician to do it, there are some quite effective do-it-yourself kits available.
Check your tires: Are they inflated to manufacturer recommended levels? The driver’s side door jamb of your vehicle usually contains a label showing the correct inflation levels (psi). Is the tread still at safe depth? The Lincoln penny method works for a quick assessment. Insert head down and facing you. If you can see the top of the head it’s probably time to think about replacing the tires. Remember, tire tread is so important in extreme weather conditions and can be the difference between control and losing control of your vehicle. Also, less tread can equal more vulnerability to objects in the road causing flat tires.
Check under the hood: for fluids, oils and water levels. With engine oil, it is usually recommended that the car be brought to warm idle, but to avoid accidental injuries, turn off the engine when looking under the hood. Transmission oil is a little more sensitive if you see the levels are below recommended, take the vehicle to a professional auto servicing center. Oil type fluids should be reasonably clear and not burned looking. Do the fluids need changing or just topping off? Not everyone is comfortable in doing these things and maybe a quick trip to an oil change facility or mechanic is your best option. Water levels in both the reservoir radiator water tank and the battery should be checked. Are the terminals of the battery corroded and do they need cleaning? You can simply use baking soda in paste form, or vinegar, or buy sprays and terminal cleaning tools. Are the engine belts and hoses in good condition, check for signs of wear, are they brittle or cracked? Visually check for any oil or fluid leaks, this may mean there are problems with hoses and seals. Before you leave on your trip, try to remember to look at your gauges for gas and oil levels, and adjust mirrors before departing for your trip.
Have a happy and safe weekend, and remember our veterans on Memorial Day Monday.