According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 13,000 Americans are killed during the summer travel season between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. A portion of these deaths can be directly attributed to unperformed vehicle maintenance, as each year neglected maintenance leads to over 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries, and more than $2 billion in expenses. With American drivers spending 11% more time on the road this year, according to a study from the Surface Transportation Policy Project, having a safe car and driving safely are both high priorities as we head into summer. Car trouble, usually due to neglected maintenance, brings an abrupt end to vacation plans and can also lead to dangerous results.
It’s important to include a pre-trip inspection when planning your vacation. Nothing can put a damper on a fun trip like a flat tire, or even worse, a preventable accident. While you may be comfortable putting off a brake job, or ignoring that warning light until after you return; but what about everyone else on the road? “Proper car care is important at all times, but is particularly critical during the holiday travel seasons,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “When vehicle maintenance is put off too long, you’re potentially putting your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers and other drivers, in jeopardy.”
This scenario usually can be avoided with a pre-vacation inspection or check-up. This “physical” for your vehicle should include an inspection of the following systems.
1)Cooling: Have your A/C inspected and run any diagnostics if you have any issues with your car overheating in summer months. Make sure to top off your coolant if necessary before or throughout your trip.2) Braking: Make sure your brakes and rotors are in good condition before you hit the road. Fourth of July weekend is heavy for traffic, which can put a lot of strain on already worn down brakes.
3) Emission- Check for any leaks in your car’s emission system and be sure to have it serviced regularly, and especially before any major car trips. 4) Steering/suspension- Construction and extreme heat can affect the texture of a road surface. Having your steering and suspension system checked can ensure the safety of your vehicle in the event you hit any literal bumps in the road.
5) Fuel- Long road trips can hit your fuel system-and your pockets, hard. Servicing your engine and fuel system, and getting oil changes will ease some of the financial stress caused by the holiday weekend gas spike.
6) Electrical and ignition- Nothing’s worse than be ready to wind down your vacation with a drive home, and your car not starting. Service your battery and have your ignition and starter checked to prevent this from ruining your trip.
Also be sure to check the following on your own: engine performance, tires/wheels, instruments/gages, windshield wipers, and seat belts. Our Trip Service special includes many of the above-mentioned services, designed to help you reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble. Follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for more information on Summer Travel Safety!