Millions of drivers prep for winter road trips

December 18, 2014 10:48 PM
By now, you already know that millions of drivers are planning on road tripping somewhere during the holiday season. Whether you're one of these motorists or not, you - and your car - should be prepared for anything this winter. The influx of people on the roads, combined with extreme weather and other factors, could leave some drivers in the dust - literally. Instead of becoming one of those motorists left to wait for help on the side of the road, make sure your car is ready to handle anything with the right preventative vehicle maintenance. What drivers are doing right The Rubber Manufacturers Association recently conducted a survey to see what drivers are doing to protect themselves before they embark on long road trips. According to the report, just over half of motorists will check their tire pressure before pulling out onto the highway. The 54 percent of drivers who can cross this off their to-do list barely beats out the 51 percent who will get an auto oil change prior to departure. While it's great that the majority of drivers turn their attention to these areas of need, there's more to be done. Still, the RMA noted that caring for tires is a great first step, as the wheels are among the most important aspects of a vehicle. "We're encouraged that more than half of holiday road trippers are taking steps to be tire smart and check tire pressure," said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs. "But all motorists should be checking tire pressure before every long trip.  Fully loaded vehicles packed with people, luggage and holiday gifts that ride on under inflated tires present a safety issue." What needs to be improved Although more than half of drivers monitored tire pressure and got an oil change before a road trip, other areas were severely lacking. For instance, only about 41 percent checked to see if brake service was needed, while just 18 percent peeked at the coolant level. Both of the tasks are essential - especially in winter, when freezing temperatures and slick roads make it tough for drivers and their cars. The survey also noted that only one-fourth of drivers checked tire tread depth. There's no excuse for this, as all they need is a penny to complete the test, and it can be done quickly while measuring air pressure. "Checking tire pressure and tread depth each month will take just a few minutes," Zielinski continued. "These fast, easy tire care tips will help travelers get to their destination safely and enjoy the holidays with family and loved ones." Not sure where to start?  Most drivers aren't car experts, and as such they shouldn't be left to shoulder car care on their own. Instead of trying to haphazardly complete maintenance, let an auto repair franchise do some of the work. A professional will best know which areas need the most attention and upkeep. Some franchises even keep track of maintenance schedules for you, so you'll never have to worry about being behind on your tune ups. AAA also had some advice for drivers who are planning road trips. The organization recommended grabbing some paper maps to plan out the travel route and make any last-minute alterations as needed. It also noted that mobile apps can be a big help, as they make it easy to locate nearby gas stations, service centers and accommodations. Finally, AAA stated that drivers should always call an expert if they get stranded. Lingering on the side of the road can be dangerous, particularly if it's nighttime or there are a lot of vehicles out, and professionals will have the right safety equipment.
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