Summer vacation times are nearly here! Whether you're planning for long distance summer travel, or just running errands on a hot day, you don't want to be left stranded in the summer heat. Now is the time to "summerize" your car and make sure the entire family is ready for any journey.
Jody DeVere, President and CEO of AskPatty.com, knows what it's like to take a road trip with the kids buckled up in back. "If you've ever driven more than a few hours straight with kids in tow, be prepared for anything that can happen on the road. To help reduce the stress of summertime travel, here are some planning tips to help you get organized ahead of time."
1) Plan your route.
Especially when trekking new territory, use an online mapping service to find the best way to get there.. There is often more than one route to most destinations. Do you want to take the longer, more scenic route? Or do you want to get there quickly via the most direct route? Before you depart, check with local traffic services to ensure roads are open. Some highways may be closed for repairs or resurfacing. Online mapping services may not be aware of such closures, and you could be faced with tedious detours.
2) Prep the kids.
Family trips invariably lead to the familiar back-seat question, "Are we there yet?" Building fun road trip memories and avoiding hours of frustration is all about anticipating your child's needs. Be sure to keep the kids occupied with fun travel games and plenty of snacks. Take frequent restroom and stretch breaks. Begin the road trip by handing out a scavenger-hunt-style list of sights and landmarks along the way to keep them engaged in what they see. Promise and deliver prizes for the most sites seen or most unusual things found.
3) Practice efficient driving techniques to save fuel.
Slow down and watch your speed. According to the United States Department of Energy, gas mileage tends to heavily decrease at speeds above 60 mph. Not only is observing the speed limit the law, but it can work in your wallet's favor. Use your cruise control to keep a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Be sure your tires are inflated to the vehicle manufactruer's recommended air pressure. This is one of the easiest ways to instantly improve fuel efficiency and keep you safer. Use the air conditioning if you need to; open windows while moving at highway speeds can create drag, robbing you of good gas mileage. While you're focusing on fuel efficiency, remember that some API certified motor oils provide a boost in fuel economy. Using low-quality oils that don't meet API specification could result in increased fuel costs.
4) Don't forget to pack your roadside emergency kit!
To ensure you're prepared for any roadside mishap, keep these things in your car: snacks and bottled water, first aid kit, cell phone and charger, sun screen and sun protection, flashlight and batteries, blankets, waterproof matches and/or a lighter, properly inflated spare tire, jack and lug wrench, jumper cables, signal flares, pocket knife, plastic trash bags for wind protection and car sickness, atlas and state/local road maps, extra quart of high-quality motor oil, hand cleaner and paper towels. And remember your family's emergency contact list!
Always check your vehicle owner's manual for your recommended maintenance intervals. Change the wipers. Summer rain is common in some areas, so ensure your wiper blades are fresh. If it's nearing time for a service call, it's better to perform the work before you hit the road. Need an oil change? Your choice of motor oil matters, so be sure to purchase a high-quality motor oil and minimize the potential of an engine-oil-related failure - it's cheap peace of mind. High-quality oils - like Pennzoil and Quaker State - back up the performance of their products with an extended lubrication limited warranty (up to 500,000 miles for Pennzoil and 300,000 miles for Quaker State).
"Because motor oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle's engine, I feel it is important to share some of the key points I found from the exciting educational initiative Motor Oil Matters and the informative website www.MotorOilMatters.org," says DeVere. "Using high-quality oil is an important aspect of keeping your car running smoothly, helping your vehicle maximize its fuel efficiency. When choosing high-quality motor oil, it's reassuring to know that quality oil producers collaborate with automakers to develop specs and help minimize the potential for engine failure and breakdown - good to know when you're counting on a trouble-free trip.
"On the flip side, a vehicle using low-quality oil may be more likely to break down, which is not only inconvenient, but it also threatens your family's ability to get to the next stop on your journey."
You can visit www.MotorOilMatters.org to learn more about the difference in motor oils. The website has been designed to provide the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to motor oil and your vehicle. Test your motor oil knowledge with the interactive quiz or visit the tips and advice section for quick answers to the most commonly asked questions and most popular motor oil myths.
Being well-prepared for your summer travel adventrues will make certain your family memories will be the best they can be. When planning for the traveling needs of your passengers, remember to look after your vehicle, too. You're counting on it to get you where you're going and back home again safely and efficiently.