For many people, holiday time is travel time. Whether you’re dropping in on distant relatives or making the rounds of holiday parties, odd are good that you plan to put a lot of miles on your car this December.
To make your travels safe and comfortable, follow these tips to prepare for your holiday road trips.
- Check Your Tires
Though you may not see a white Christmas in Northern California, cooler temperatures mean that the air pressure in your tires may have changed. While you don’t necessarily have to buy snow tires this winter, check the air pressure and treads to make sure they’re ready to go. If your tires are balding, replacing them before your holiday travels will help prevent a blowout that leaves you stranded.
- Top Off Fluids
Make sure your windshield wiper fluid reservoir is full, because you’ll go through a lot of it if you end up driving on salt-treated roads this season. Keep in mind that manufacturers recommend replacing windshield wiper blades every 6 months; consider replacing yours if they are not in good condition. You should also check your antifreeze to make sure your engine is well protected against the cold weather.
- Change Your Oil
Regular oil changes are always a good idea, so check the date or mileage on that handy window sticker you got last time you had your oil changed. Even if you don’t need an oil change just yet, it’s a good idea to get one before a long trip. Ask about what types of motor oil are best to protect your engine in cold weather, and have your filters changed while you’re at it to help improve your gas mileage.
- Plan Your Route
Before you head out, check the weather and traffic reports so you know what you’re getting into. Use Google maps or another app to help you figure out how long it will take to get to your final destination — then add an extra half-hour to be safe. Holiday traffic can be unpredictable, but you can stay relaxed if you know you have a cushion of extra time to fall back on.
- Charge Your Phone
Your cell phone is one of the most important safety devices in your vehicle, so keep it charged. Running all those apps to check traffic can really run down your battery, so keep a charger in your car. A fully juiced phone is crucial in a roadside emergency if you need to call for help.
- Make Things Fun
Don’t forget to load up your favorite music, snacks and games to keep kids — and you! — entertained on a long trip. Though your kids may prefer to put on headphones and zone out to video games, you can also try engaging them in an old-fashioned holiday sing-along or license-plate spotting contest for something different.