Just about anything can happen on a road trip, and that’s why they’re such great adventures. But adventures don’t just happen. Being a grand explorer requires plenty of prep time.
Lots of Canadians put hundreds of kilometres on their odometers during the summer months. Avoid an unexpected breakdown by checking your car before leaving, and keep safe on the road by thoroughly planning beforehand.
Prepare Your Vehicle: Tires and Brakes
Flat tires are still the most common roadside emergency. If your tires are worn, your odds of an unscheduled stop are greatly increased. Summer heat is also brutal for brake pads that are on their last legs. To prevent heat related brake fade, make sure that your brake pads are relatively new rather than barely there. Squealing, abnormal pulsing, and uneven performance are the tell-tales that your brakes need attention.
Identify where your engine oil dipstick is located, and when checking your levels, never park it on an incline. If you have just run your vehicle, wait at least ten minutes for the oil to drain down to the pan for the most accurate reading. Try to check your oil in daylight, if you can, so you can assess the level indicated and the colour of the fluid accurately.
Checking transmission/CVT fluid is easy. Again, a dipstick is used, so park on a level surface. Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid is read both “cold” while first idling, and then “hot” after the transmission fluid has performed work. A low level, dark or milky fluid, burnt smell, or visible particulates, is a concern.
Brake, Power Steering and Coolant Levels
The good news here is that in most modern vehicles, all of these fluids have clearly marked plastic reservoirs in the engine compartment that can tell you at a glance whether they are at adequate levels. It’s best to have all of these fluids changed by certified technicians.
Alberta is covered from end to end by flying summer insects that will often die spectacularly upon your windshield. Be certain that you regularly top off your wiper fluid with a formula that can deal clear the bugs. However, if your wiper blades are worn out, it won’t matter which fluid you are using.
Just in Case…
Be sure that you have at least a basic vehicular emergency kit onboard, and that it remains accessible without entirely unpacking the truck of the vehicle on road side. Such kits can either be purchased as prepackaged items, or you can assemble one yourself. In remote areas, the ability to attempt self rescue could be the difference between an amusing story about a brief inconvenience and a tale of woe about a completely ruined vacation.
And if you are headed south of the border, consider purchasing traveler’s insurance, which can assist you during many different types of emergencies.
Give Yourself Peace of Mind
Make sure you’re well rested before hitting the road. Plan a reasonable itinerary to reduce time based stress while driving. Arrange for someone to watch your house while you are away. When you have these kinds of details handled ahead of time, you will have a worry-free vacation.
Be a Prepared and Defensive Driver
If you’re relying on GPS to navigate to your destination, why not take a moment with the map to familiarize yourself with the route before setting off? It’s not unheard of to have a phone or GPS unit lead a driver into trouble and changing your settings on a device while driving will run you afoul of Alberta’s distracted driver law.
While driving, use defensive driving techniques, especially in unfamiliar terrain. Maintain reasonable distances from other traffic and take all of the speed suggestions for curves seriously. Also, be aware that long summertime dusk makes deer, moose and other Alberta animals crossing roadways a constant hazard.
Contact Bow Valley Insurance
Your vehicle isn’t the only thing about driving that can benefit from a regular checkup. Contact Bow Valley Insurance of Calgary today for a free vehicle insurance quote.