It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Over the river and through the woods, to a family member’s house many of us will go during this holiday season. While some can afford the luxury of air fare for the entire family, most of us will take to the highways as we pack up our gifts and good wishes for the holiday season.

When travelling for the holidays it is important to ensure that you do everything possible to avoid mechanical failures that could put you into harm’s way. As you prepare to travel, particularly if long distances are involved, here’s a quick list of items that demand your attention:

  • Check your tires. Tire blowouts are a common cause of highway accidents—so make sure your tires are in good working condition, and that they are appropriate for the type of climate you’ll be traveling to for your visit. Checking the tire tread and tire pressure is mandatory; it’s recommended that tires be kept at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level for safety reasons and also to increase fuel efficiency for each mile traveled. To check if your tires need to be replaced, insert a quarter into the tire treads with the Washington head toward the tire. If no portion of the head is covered, the tire is below 1/8 of an inch and it is recommended that you replace your tire immediately. It is also recommended that you register your tires with their manufacturer to ensure that you will promptly receive any safety recall on defective tires.
  • Don’t over-pack the sleigh. Vehicles actually have a payload capacity, and that should not be ignored. Check your owner’s manual to determine your vehicle’s maximum weight—and make sure your vehicle isn’t so full that you cannot see clearly out of all windows. Use an external luggage carrier or rack to carry larger items that might otherwise obstruct your view.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. A “White Christmas” is lovely to look at—from the safety of a nice, warm home or hotel. However, winter weather often presents challenging driving conditions, as there can be black ice or ice hidden beneath the glimmering, snow-covered roads. Always check the weather conditions before you embark on a holiday road trip, even if it seems like it’s just a quick jaunt down the road for more eggnog.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Always have an emergency kit in your car, complete with a blanket, flashlight, a first aid kit, snacks, bottled water, and a cellphone charger. Including a card with emergency contact information in your emergency kit is essential, if you lose complete battery power with no way to charge your cell phone. You never know when or how long you might be stuck in inclement weather situations—so best to be prepared.