It’s official, the holiday season has arrived. Besides the traditional Christmas shopping, it’s also time to start prepping for the annual holiday road trip! Whether you’re driving several hours to spend time with family or braving the roads for last minute gifts, you need to be prepared. These 10 simple, but important tips, will help make your holiday road trip a safe and happy experience.
1. Check your vehicle maintenance list twice
Make sure you fully inspect your vehicle before leaving the driveway. To start, you want to ensure all your lights are in working order, tires are properly inflated, windshield wipers are operational, and there is enough wiper fluid for the long road ahead. Keep an extra bottle of wiper fluid in the trunk, just in case. For additional maintenance tips check out our article on how to properly prepare for winter.
2. Avoid fuel hikes at the pumps
Rising fuel prices typically come hand-in-hand with the holiday season so keep an eye out for low prices if you know you’ll be travelling a lot. Try to fill up earlier in the week – generally as the week progresses you will see a steady rise in gas prices.
3. Watch out for speed traps
Just because Santa can break speed records as he rounds the globe in one night, that doesn’t mean you should attempt the same. The holiday season is prime time for highway patrols to set up speed traps as they look to slow down frantic shoppers and holiday road trippers. It’s best to follow the posted speed limit to not only ensure your safety, but also the safety of those around you – especially when you factor in icy and less than ideal road conditions.
4. Get a good night’s sleep and avoid fatigue
Make sure you get a full night’s sleep before departing on any major family trips. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your motor skills, slowing down your reaction time out on the road. It’s best to be well-rested and alert at all times while driving, especially during extended periods of driving. If you find your concentration slipping, take a break, grab a coffee, get out and stretch or go for a brisk walk. When travelling long distances, take turns driving with a passenger. If this is not an option, consider turning the trip from one day to two days, and spend an evening in a hotel to maintain your alertness and energy throughout your trip.
5. Remember to secure your home and vehicle
The holidays are a time for getting together with family, sipping hot chocolate by the fire, opening up presents and…getting burglarized? Unfortunately, yes this is also the time of year when burglaries are on the rise as hooligans and criminals seek to loot homes and cars in search of expensive gifts. As a precaution, it’s always best to double check your locks before leaving your home or car to ensure both places are secure. It’s also a good idea to hide your valuables – draw the curtains or stash your presents in the trunk if you can’t store them elsewhere at the mall or when visiting family.
6. Plan your route
If you’re venturing out on a family road trip be proactive and plan ahead, taking into account local traffic and weather reports. Know your route and arm yourself with a map or GPS in case you get off track.
7. Be prepared for emergencies
With winter weather comes an unfortunate increase in vehicle emergencies. These could come in the form of an accident, a dead battery or a vehicle stuck in the snow. When situations like these occur, it’s best to be prepared – you should travel with a fully-stocked emergency roadside kit in your vehicle at all times.
8. Avoid the rum and eggnog
If you’re going to be driving during the holidays, don’t drink and drive. This is the season for family get-togethers and company Christmas parties and if you think you might be tempted to let loose with a beverage or two, plan ahead with a designated driver or take a taxi.
9. Leave early
Whether it’s a trip to find the family tree or a Christmas shopping excursion, remember that the roads will be full of people doing the same thing, and they’ll all be in a hurry. Leaving earlier than you need to not only ensures you arrive on time, but helps alleviate the hustle and bustle during the holidays.
The holidays are a great opportunity to celebrate and spend time with loved ones. By planning ahead, driving safely and having a little extra patience when out on the road, you can ensure that this Christmas season is a safe and happy one with plenty of comfort and joy.
The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists perform a six-point winter maintenance check of areas that have direct impact on winter driving.
“Harsh winter weather can stress out a vehicle, as well as its driver,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A vehicle that is properly prepared for the elements can help you avoid an unplanned road emergency when the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse.”
- Battery – Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
- Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
- Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
- Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
- Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
- Lights & Wipers – Make sure all exterior and interior lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir and replace wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield.
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For example, five stars do not always add up to six or more airbags. Some car makers provide only enough (four) airbags to earn the five-star rating.
For complete peace of mind, be sure to check there are two front, two side (usually in the outer cushion of the front seats) and two head-protecting “curtain” airbags that drop down from the roof above the side windows – front and rear.
Some cars have knee-protecting airbags under the steering column and near the glovebox, while others also have rear-seat airbags.
When shopping for a new vehicle, the world is your oyster. Every vehicle in every automaker’s lineup is available for your perusal. You can purchase a fully loaded minivan for those big family vacations, a sleek new sports coupe for your next mid-life crisis toy or a stripped down compact for your new college graduate. The sky is quite seriously the limit. With hundreds of different models of sedans, sports cars, trucks and SUVs on the market right now, it’s up to you to pick out which type of vehicle suits you best. This isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Once you know what size vehicle you’re looking for, you can do research online to figure out which ones you’d like to test drive. To help you out, here are some things you should consider when narrowing down your list of new cars.
Automakers offer just about every feature imaginable on their newest model year vehicles. Some will make your car more comfortable, others make it more attractive and some will even make it safer. Depending on your price range, some of these features like heated seats and darkness-detecting lights may come standard. In other cases, you’ll have to pay extra for anything above the baseline. Since some of these features are worth more than others, we’ve created a rundown of everything you’ll be able to add to a new car accompanied by our opinion on their values.
Backup cameras can be incredibly useful gadgets if you find yourself needing to Parallel Park regularly. They can make squeezing into a space easy for even the shakiest parkers. And the technology they use is constantly becoming more advanced. The only downside is that these cameras are usually included as part of a “premium” package on midrange cars, making them a bit pricey for some budgets.
Remote entry has come a long way in the last couple of years. Every new model comes with a remote key fob these days and you can unlock many of them simply by approaching the car with the key in your pocket. The newest models of the Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz SUVs offer hands-free access not only to the doors, but also to the back hatch as well. Just wave your foot under the bumper and the door will open on its. If you have to haul a lot of things around, this will definitely be a useful investment.
Those power mats that charge your electronic devices just by touching them have finally made their way to vehicles like the new Dodge Dart. Unfortunately, these mats are often more trouble than they’re worth – you have to install an accessory onto every device you wish to charge plus you need to pay the dealership a premium to install the mats in the first place. In our opinion, you should just stick to the good old fashioned outlet chargers that you can buy for about $10.
Nothing feels better than a warm seat after you’ve just come in from the rain or snow. However, their utility is limited unless you live in area that sees a significant amount of inclement weather. Luckily, most vehicles that offer heated seats include them as a standard feature. If your vehicle requires you to upgrade to heated seats, you may not t be missing much by skipping them.
Winter wipers – with the rubber coverings that keep ice from collecting on the blade – have become very popular. They’re great in the winter, but make sure you take them off in the spring. Winter wipers are heavy, and if you use them all summer, you’ll wear out the wiper motor prematurely.
And when using your wipers in the winter, remember to turn them off BEFORE shutting off the engine. Why? Water frequently freezes overnight during the winter. And if your blades freeze to the windshield, when you go to start your car, the wiper motor may burn out trying to get them back to the “rest position,” while you’re sitting there wondering, “What’s that burning smell?”
An auto collision can be an emotional and exhausting experience. Many motorists drive defensively, take driver education courses and prepare for stressful driving situations, but unfortunately vehicle collisions still occur.
A driver is responsible for knowing what to do if they are involved in a collision. Even the most prepared and competent drivers sometimes find themselves involved in a crash. It does not matter who is at fault, the most important thing to do first is make sure everyone is OK, then seek medical and law enforcement help and know what to do to protect yourself from legal or financial problems down the road.
The best defense to avoid any problems after a crash is to be prepared. Keeping a pen and paper, disposable camera or cell phone camera, and copy of your insurance card easily accessible at all times will help keep you organized and decrease stress moments after a collision.
1. Assist the Injured. Quickly check with those involved in the collision to determine if there are any injuries. If medical attention is needed, call 9-1-1. If medical attention is not needed, make sure you are not in imminent danger at the roadside.
2. Control the Scene. Before taking time to exchange information, get to a safe place. If there are no injuries and the vehicle is drivable, safely move to the right or left emergency lane. Some state laws require drivable vehicles to be removed from the roadway to avoid traffic congestion. Turn on your hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles. Do not leave the scene of the crash, but find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive.
3. Notify the Police and Submit a Report. The law requires you notify the police. No matter what either party says, call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene to open an investigation, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or automobile insurance agency in the days after a crash. Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.
4. Document the Scene and Exchange Information. It is important to exchange and gather information with all parties involved in the crash, including witnesses. Having this on file will help complete any future paperwork or address potential problems. We suggests that you document:
- Addresses/email address
- Vehicle Information including makes, models and years for all cars involved
- Vehicle identification/license plate numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance carriers and policy numbers
- Take photos of the location, people involved and damaged vehicles
5. Notify Your Insurance Carrier. Your insurance carrier will need to be notified following a crash to start the proper claim filing. Many insurance companies have staff available 24/7 and can assist immediately. Having proof of insurance in your vehicle is required by law and makes filing a claim easier if not at home.
6. Unattended Vehicle or Property. If you are involved in a crash that involves an unattended vehicle or property, take action to inform the owner. If you cannot locate the owner, attach a written notice of the collision to the vehicle or property, being sure to include your contact information and information listed above.
Drivers and owners of motor vehicles must be prepared to assume legal and financial responsibility if involved in a crash, do not to let your emotions and feelings get in the way of deciding who is at fault. Never allow yourself to be pressured into admitting fault or giving an opinion about the cause of a crash. If you wish, you can consult with an attorney before giving a statement.
Midway Nissan wishes you and your loved ones a happy new year!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Midway Nissan!