By the time you read this, we will be in the official start of summer. School is out, vaccines are in and Americans are ready to get back on the road.
Three times now in recent weeks, my youngest has asked, “Mom, can we go on a road trip this weekend?” My answer, finally after more than a year, is a resounding Y-E-S.
Summer family road trips are part of my DNA, having made the 12-hour haul to my grandfather’s cabin in Canada every summer for the first 15 years of my life, and a variety of cross-country treks in my later teens. I am so thrilled my kids are now discovering the joy and freedom that a great summer road trip can bring.
According to rental car company Hertz, I’m not alone. In a recent poll, Hertz found that more than 80% of people surveyed say they plan to take a road trip this summer and 86% agree they are more likely or as likely to hit the road compared to previous years. Fifty-two percent of respondents plan to resume travel as early as this month.
In another study looking at summer travel plans conducted by Bridgestone Americas, nearly four in five respondents said they feel safer in a car than on a plane, and nearly one-third said they plan to travel more than 500 miles by car this summer.
This is great news for those in the industry who keep a close eye on Vehicle Miles Traveled as a barometer of the health of the aftermarket. Also great news for the repair segment – IF motorists take care of delayed routine maintenance before hitting the road.
Bridgestone reports that despite the high number of Americans solely trusting their vehicles for travel this summer, many drivers have not completed routine tire and vehicle maintenance that is critical to a safe journey.
Below are a few activities Bridgestone recommends that drivers can easily check at home before hitting the road:
Tires: Drivers should check tire pressure using a tire-inflation gauge and evaluate tire-tread depth. A simple way to check tread depth is with the penny test. Drivers can place a penny upside down in the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it is time to purchase new tires. Before hitting the road, consumers also should check their spare tire. Some vehicles have a “mobility kit” in lieu of a spare to temporarily seal a tire until it can be replaced.
Oil: Drivers should check their oil by turning the engine off, popping the hood and locating the oil dipstick. For an accurate reading, remove, wipe and reinsert the dipstick. Visit a car care center if oil is low or appears gritty or milky.
Battery: Car owners can safely and easily check for a healthy battery from the comfort of their own driveway by turning their vehicle’s headlights on for 15 minutes without starting the engine, then starting their car while watching the headlights. If they dim noticeably, it is likely the battery needs replacing.
I speak from (unfortunate) experience when I say taking the time to make sure your trusty chariot is up to the task before you hit the highway is well-worth the investment – both of time and money.
I’ll see you out there … just hopefully not on the side of the road with your hazards on!