Preparing your car for a summer road trip

June 9, 2014 12:00 AM

As summer begins and the weather gets warmer, it is time to hit the road. There's nothing nicer than being able to cruise around town with the windows down and the music turned up. With this time of year also comes long drives and the occasional road trip, so making sure your ride is properly packed is important before you head out. While you may have remembered to pack your pajamas and socks, there are a few other items you need that are key to a successful trip. Is your car road-trip ready?

As many have learned the hard way, car troubles can really ruin plans. It is important that you visit your local auto repair shop before leaving on such a long journey. As the heat rises, have your car checked for any minor issues. By catching potential problems early, it can prevent more expensive issues down the road. Take a look at what key car components you should check before summer.

Pack for emergencies
Sometimes emergencies happen, and you need to be prepared for this possibility before you set out on a long car trip. You should plan for the unexpected. It is a good idea to keep extra water, a snack, jumper cables and a first-aid kit in your car. You should also have a blanket, flashlight and extra batteries just in case. A car charger for your cellphone is also useful and will come in handy when you need to call for help. The Red Cross suggests you bring extra cash, duct tape and maps of the areas you are traveling through as well.

Pack for fun
Long car rides can get boring quickly, so make sure you bring along some items for fun. A deck of cards is needed. If traveling with kids, bring books they enjoy, their favorite videogames, and maybe a laptop to play movies on. Nothing makes a car trip longer than the constant, "Are we there yet?" from the backseat, so try to engage kids to avoid this. While traveling, sing-a-longs can be great fun, or you could even try a car game.The license plate game is always a good one. Each member of the family tries to spot a license plate from a different state and the goal is to see how many states you can get.

Driving safety 
Once you are on the road, it is important to drive safely. As everyone knows, seatbelts are lifesaving and often the law, but there is more you can do to protect yourself from common sources of harm. One of the more unknown dangers is fatigue. When driving long distances, people often get tired but might not realize how much that can effect their driving. While planning your road trip, make time for rest stops every three hours and, if possible, switch drivers often. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises against trying to drive overnight. Instead, stop somewhere and rest overnight.

Finally, don't forget your camera to capture those great road trip moments.

This year, make your summer road trip the best it can be. After you have checked your car over, brought it to an auto repair franchise and packed, you are ready to hit the road. Drive safe!

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