Planning on taking a road trip? Electric Insurance offers you advice on how to prepare your car to avoid mishaps when you hit the road.
The first step should be to perform a visual inspection for any obvious problems. Many of us just get into the driver's side and never look at the passenger side, front, or back. As far as the mechanics of your car are concerned, be sure to go through this checklist:
- Tire pressure — Check the owner's manual or the outside of your tires to find out what the air pressure (PSI) should be. Use a tire pressure gauge to ensure the pressure is at the manufacturer's specifications
- Tire tread depth — Place a dime in the farthest outside groove of each tire. Half of the dime's length should be in the tread
- Fluids — Oil should be changed every 3,000 miles and antifreeze should fill about half of the reservoir (overfill) tank. Also be sure you have a full supply of windshield wiper fluid
- Emergency brake — Make sure it's working properly. If you are taking a trip to the mountains, or any unfamiliar territory, you want to make sure your brake works
- Battery — Verify it's charged (should last about 80,000 miles). Dim headlights are one indication a battery may need re—charging
- Hoses — After your car has been parked, look for any spots or drippings, which could indicate a leak in one of the hoses. Check the serpentine belt, which is shaped like an "S". It should be taut and not loose
- Lights — Double check headlights, blinkers, interior lights, tail lamps, brake lights and hazards. Also be sure to wipe off any dirt from all outside lights
- Mirrors — If you have motorized rear view or side mirrors, make sure they are operational and adjusted to your comfort level
Always have a spare set of keys with you when you travel. It can be extraordinarily difficult, time consuming, and even embarrassing to be locked out of your car when far from home.
Once the car passes inspection, you're off and running. To stay safe, it's imperative to stay alert while driving. Many accidents are a result of drivers who were distracted or tired.
- Avoid using your cell phone when driving
- Have a co-pilot. They can read directions, grab a toy for the kids, or get the toll money ready. It's always a good idea to have toll money set aside ahead of time
- At appropriate intervals, take breaks from driving. If you feel fatigued, stop and rest, or ask someone else to drive
Everyone should have an emergency kit in his or her car. It should include: jumper cables, a gallon of water, a flashlight, and basic hand tools such as screwdrivers and pliers.
Even the most prepared drivers can encounter unexpected difficulties. To prevent your car from overheating, periodically turn the heat and the blower on high. This helps release heat from the engine. If the car does overheat, wait until the car cools down, then pour some of the water from your emergency kit into the radiator reservoir as a temporary fix until you can make it to a garage. If you need to pull over for any reason, put on your hazards, set your emergency brake, and open your trunk and hood, which is the universal sign for help.
If you're in an accident, pull over and make sure everyone's okay. Then collect the other party's information. You'll need the license plate and vehicle identification number, the name of their insurance company, the name, address, and telephone number of both the driver and owner of the vehicle, and the names of any passengers in the car. If you have a camera in the car, take pictures of the damage on both vehicles. Print out a copy of this article and store it in your car's glove compartment in case you need it.
Electric Insurance supplies all of our customers with claim cards that have these instructions written on them—with spaces to fill in any information. Call Electric Insurance at 800.342.5342, 24 hours a day if you have questions, concerns, or just need information.