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Tag: road trip

Photo shows the back of a hatchback car open, showing a fully-packed interior.
Before you pack up the car, take the time to do some regular maintenance checks.

Are you planning a weekend getaway, or visiting your family for the holidays? It can get just to load the car up with the family just to go to the movies, let alone a long drive. And when you have a long drive, there are other concerns to address before hitting the road other than music and snacks.

This list is meant to cover all the ordinary checks you’ll want to do before an extended drive, to make sure you and your family are driving safe.

1. Check your dash and lights

Make sure there aren’t any warning lights on your dashboard. If there are, take your car to a mechanic to will check the on-board diagnostics with a scanning device. It works like a computer and reads if there’s anything wrong with the vehicle. This step will help you find out the causes behind the warning lights and how they can be fixed.

Check your headlights too. Turn them on and off to make sure they are all working. If not, head to your local auto parts store to buy some new bulbs. Being visible to other drivers is a key safety issue, and drivers who use their headlights all day have a decreased risk of being in an accident.

Also, if you haven’t driven the car recently, take it for a test drive on the freeway, listen for noises, feel for shakes, and watch for trouble signs in the gauges.

2. Tire Pressure and Tread

One hand holds a pressure dial while the other holds the other end into a car tire.
Tires are a major safety concern. Check tire pressure and tread before taking an extended drive.

Look in your car’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. People often think the numbers on the tire is pressure, but it’s the maximum amount the tire can hold. Overfilling the tire combined with hot weather can lead to a blowout.

Be sure to add the correct amount of air to your tires. Inspect the tread on your tires. Balding tires can increase your chance of a blowout and reduce traction.

3. Engine Oil and Coolant

Check your oil levels and the mileage you’re due for an oil change. If you’re nearing your mileage suggested for an oil change, go ahead and do so before you hit the road.

So be sure to check your coolant levels as well. You don’t want to be stranded with an overheated car.

4. Brakes 

Make sure to check your brake pads. If they squeal, or its been over 50,000 miles since you replaced your brakes, it’s a safe bet to just replace them before you get on the road.

You can also do a little at-home test looking at your brake pads through the spaces between the wheel’s spokes. The outside pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. There should be at least 1/4 inch of pad if you see less than that you may want to go ahead and replace them.

5. Transmission

A transmission is what changes the gear of an engine, and both your transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant. Check them before you get on the road. Look to your owner’s manual for guidance or take it to a local transmission shop for a quick refill.

6. Belt 

Most of cars have features that can’t run without the belt, like the alternator, water pump, power steering and even the air conditioning. You can easily check the belts by turning them sideways and making sure there are no rips or tears or by taking your car to a local auto parts store.

Get your belts changed out if the auto parts store recommends it. If you’re vehicle savvy, watch this video below on how to change them at home.

 

7. Battery

While it can be a bit difficult to spot if you have a good or bad battery, there are steps you can take to make sure there is a strong connection to the car’s electrical system.

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda in a clean container, use a toothbrush to clean your battery then wipe the mixture away.

8. Documents

Make sure your documents are up-to-date. Carry your insurance papers, registration, driver’s license, and any other vehicle information that might be helpful during your trip.

9. Emergency Kit

Image shows emergency kit items in front of yellow background, including a water bottle, gloves, and jumper cables.
An emergency kit can easily help you in what might be an otherwise dire situation. (Photo credit: Geico.com)

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Have an emergency kit with some essential items for if you get stranded or have car trouble.

A few things to think about include a few blankets, a bright flashlight, jumper cables, and some basic tools like a screwdriver or wrench.

Family road trips are a great way to bond and see parts of the world you’ve never been before. Make sure your car is ready to safely get you there and back. To find other great road trip tips follow us on Instagram.

A two-way country road surrounded by lush green trees and a rusted, short fence.
Driving can be a peaceful, enjoyable activity, but it helps to prep ahead of time for an alert, safe drive.

It’s been a full 8-hour workday and you’ve got to get to that family event back in your hometown tonight, several hours away. All you feel like doing is crashing on the couch with Netflix, but you brew yourself a fresh thermos of coffee and haul yourself into the driver’s seat. But with caffeine coursing through your veins and your favorite music blasting, you still feel your eyelids trying to close and your mind wandering from the road in front of you.

It’s not an unusual scenario, taking a trip after a long day, knowing you *probably* shouldn’t be driving? Sometimes it feels unavoidable, but we can, at the very least, do what we can ahead of time to make that trip safer and take care of our own well-being in the process.

And although long drives can be tough, the risk of falling asleep at the wheel can happen at any time, even in a 10 minute drive from work. Here are a few ways we can take care of ourselves to make sure we stay safe on the road.

  1. Sleep

This might be one of the most important factors of self-care driving.

Did you know that inadequate amount of sleep is equivalent to BAC of .08 or higher? Without proper rest, the areas in the brain responsible for concentration and memory are also affected. We start to have disconnected thoughts and become unaware of our surroundings.

Try to drive earlier in the day, or even take a nap midday, if you’re able. Even a short nap can make a big difference to your attentiveness. According to a NASA study, sleepy pilots who took a 40-minute nap experienced a 34% performance increase and a 100% increase in alertness.

  1. Eat and Stay Hydrated

Always stay hydrated! Long drives are an opportunity to make sure you stay hydrated, but being hydrated ahead of time is just as important.

We want to be able to focus while driving and hunger is a big distraction. In addition, if you haven’t eaten, you probably don’t have enough of the nutrients you need to stay focused for the drive ahead. Don’t eat anything too heavy though, a food coma won’t help your focus.

  1. Attentiveness

There are three types of distracted driving: Visual, manual, and cognitive.
Distractions are everywhere. Take time to limit them before you hit the road.

We want to avoid as many distractions as possible while driving, and part of that looking after your driving needs ahead of time. Part of your self-care can be to keep your snacks and water within reach, and open difficult packaging ahead of time. If you don’t already, get a pair of comfortable sunglasses that reduce glare. If you’re driving in the winter, you might take off your top coat layer for a long drive (since the heater is probably going to warm things up before long).

Your phone is also a distraction while driving. You might use the GPS feature on your phone a lot, but instead of having to keep picking it up and looking at it, use the air vent mount for cars. This is one of the best purchases for hands-free driving, since it is easy to take on and off the mount, and is within your line of sight so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

And for those other distractions on your phone, turn notifications off. If you have Bluetooth connectivity in your car, use it to pick up calls instead of holding the phone to your ear. Limit the things that make you take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. These self-care methods work to keep you safer and happier.

  1. Comfortable Driving

We want to feel comfortable while driving, especially during long drives.

Make sure you have comfortable clothes that don’t restrict your movement and shoes that are comfortable while operating the pedals. You don’t want to be in pain or feel like you can’t breathe or move freely. If this happens, we start to think about how uncomfortable we are, which means we are not focusing on the road 100%.

However, being too comfortable can have severe effects as well. We want to avoid creating an environment in our car where we just want to sleep instead of drive.

  1. Keep Your Worries Off the Road

Despite all the risks involved with driving, never forget that driving can also be really relaxing! It can be a time to focus on yourself: Self-care within itself. Listen to an audio book, podcast, or some music you enjoy. You can find a way to use this time to unwind from your long day. Putting yourself in a relaxed, but enjoyable head-space can also reduce stress and make you less likely to react/act negatively toward other drivers.

Put all your worries behind you and off the road. You’ll be more focused to your surroundings and have a safer (and relaxing) drive!

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Avoid a trip to the body shop this holiday season with safe travel tipsIt’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time with one another. This can mean travelling by car, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. Increased traffic on the roads means greater chance of an accident. here are a few safety tips to stay on the road and out of the body shop.

Be patient

Always have patience in traffic. It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Speeding on the road increases your chance of an accident, and puts others in danger too. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Don’t make the experience of the road trip more stressful than necessary.

Get a good night’s rest

Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers.

If you do travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. Do not drive if you’re having trouble focusing on the road. If that is the case, pull over somewhere you feel safe and take a break. Well-lit grocery stores, shopping centers and even casinos often have lit and monitored parking lots where no one will bother you.

Monitor the roads and weather

A white SUV drives through snowy weather on a two-lane road. Snow is falling and is on the trees and ground.
Monitor the weather in the weeks before your trip. If there is predicted to be snow or hazardous driving weather, you may want to adjust your plans to make sure you get to your destination safely.

Prior to leaving for your road trip, take a look at the road and weather conditions to determine if you might encounter any hazardous weather. Pay attention to travel warnings, and if it is unsafe for driving, wait until the conditions improve. Follow this same step on the return home.

If you do not feel comfortable driving in specific weather condition, like snow, look for alternate methods of travel or different routes so you can avoid having an accident.

Watch your surroundings

Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay close attention to everything around you while driving. If you are on a busy freeway, pay attention to other cars and anything on the road. When a route takes you down a wooded area, watch for animals that could dart in front of your car. Watch out for children riding bikes or playing on the road residential areas.

For more helpful info, visit AMM Collision on Twitter.

A family of deer approach a road in a wooded area.
Deer are common in the Central Texas area. Use these tips to avoid hitting them on the road.

Annually across the country, there are more than one million deer-related accidents. The Central Texas area is no stranger to these types of collisions and as a local auto body shop, AMM Collision repairs dozens of cars involved in accidents with deer each year.

Any time you are driving, it is important to keep your eyes on the road. Pay close attention when driving in hilly and wooded areas where deer may suddenly come out and run toward cars. This is common in the Hill Country, especially in the evenings when animals are hard to spot outside your immediate line of sight.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid hitting a deer.

Pay attention

Deer typically roam more often during dusk or dawn, so pay attention if you are driving during these hours. If you are not familiar with the area where you are driving, look for caution signs that alert drivers to wildlife in the area.

Remember, if you see one deer there may be more nearby. They normally travel in packs.

Make a bright path

If the roads are not well lit and you do not have oncoming traffic, use high beams to create a brighter path and give you a better opportunity to see a deer before you come upon it.

Keep control

If you see a deer, slow down and brake firmly, but never swerve. Swerving can cause you to hit another car or lose control. Instead, brake and honk your horn loudly, which can potentially scare the animal away.

The deer may move, but since you won’t know what direction they may go, swerving can make the situation worse.

If you hit a deer…

Using extra caution can help to avoid an accident, but it still may not be enough. If you do hit a deer, call law enforcement and the local game warden.

Don’t touch the animal if it is injured as it could hurt you. It’s best to have trained professionals care for an injured deer. If the deer is dead, it is OK to move it off the road, but it is against the law in Texas to take it with you.

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A person in the passenger seat wearing a sweater points to a map.
When planning on a road trip, you may want to check a few items on your insurance coverage in case you run into car trouble.

A road trip is intended to be fun. No one plans on getting in an accident, and few people think ahead to what they might do if they get into one several hours down the road.

The first thing you should do is check with your insurance agent. If you need a tow, you’ll want to tow it to a nearby shop. If the vehicle is driveable, you can choose to get your car repaired where you are or back home.

Insurance coverage

Insurance coverage on a road trip depends on where your trip takes you. Before you leave on your trip, check your insurance policy to see where you are covered and review the details of your coverage plan.

If you travel anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, you are likely covered. If your trip is to Mexico, Central America, South America, or any other location, contact your insurance agent regarding coverage.

As you travel, remember that laws are different from state to state and different in other countries. Check the driving laws for the location you are going and all points in between, plus the insurance laws for those areas. The minimum requirements for coverage vary in different areas.

No matter where you are located, reporting the accident to your insurance company is the same.

Schedule a repair

If you need a tow, most insurance policies will cover the cost within a certain radius from the accident. The insurance company can also schedule the tow no matter where you are located and can reserve a rental car for you, if needed. If you choose to have your vehicle towed back home and you are far away, discuss the coverage with your insurance agent. It’s likely you will have to cover the cost for a long-distance tow.

AMM Collision is an Austin and Central Texas auto body repair shop. We will arrange a tow and rental car for you if you choose us for repair.

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