Summertime means vacation for many of us. And vacation usually means there will be driving involved.
Many like to visit the seashore vacation spots along the eastern seaboard from Boston to Florida, while others prefer to head to the mountains. Either way, some questions have come up about travel essentials that should be brought along on your trip this summer, or anytime really.
Our first question is, “Do I need to carry a car care survival kit when going on vacation?”
My answer is a definite “yes.” It’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected. You never know what obstacles you may have to avoid while traveling.
“What should be in my car care survival kit?” is our second question.
A car care survival kit can get you and your family through an emergency that arises due to a malfunction or problem with your vehicle. The kit should include rain gear, gloves, rags, snacks and water (enough for everyone!), and whatever you think you may need for a quick repair or long wait for roadside assistance.
If you’re mechanically inclined and comfortable performing small repairs, you’ll want the necessary tools and possibly the parts you may need. You don’t want to get in a situation where you need something you thought about including but didn’t.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include your cell phone on the list, but as we all know, probably everyone in the vehicle will have one. None of them will be worth having if they all have dead batteries, right? So make sure phone chargers come along too. Roadside assistance or AAA (American Automobile Association) membership information is also important to have with you.
That said, if your vehicle is prepared properly, chances are high that many items that you might have put in your kit will not be needed.
Our third question is, “How do I prepare my vehicle for my next trip?”
Preparing your vehicle includes checking and topping off all of the fluids, such as engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, windshield washer fluid and brake fluid. Plus, make sure you check tire condition and pressure. The recommended pressure for your vehicle’s tires is located on a label on the driver-side door jamb. In addition to the tires on the car, check that the spare tire is where it should be, as well as the vehicle jack and tool kit is equipped.
As mentioned in previous columns, if you feel comfortable doing the vehicle preparation yourself, go for it. If you aren’t, visit your local repair shop. Just remember, there will be a fee for the inspection, but it is well worth it.
Our last question is, “Why do I need certain items in my car care survival kit?”
The items noted above are there for various reasons. For instance, gloves are included to protect your hands when changing a flat and rags will help with the tire change clean-up. Rain gear is included because you know, if you get a flat, it will be raining. It happened to me.
The water and snacks are self-explanatory. The cell phone will play several roles in an emergency. First, you will use it to make a rescue call. Then, as you spend time waiting for that rescue, you can use it to play games, watch videos or browse the internet and social media.
Since the amount of items you can include in your kit is up to you, be sure to include items for those traveling with you — drinks, snacks, blankets, or an extra pair of gloves so they can help out with that flat tire.
Hopefully, everyone will have a great vacation season at the shore, or in the mountains, with no emergencies. But if one should come up, your pre-prepared car care survival kit will get you through it.
Mark Kozemko is Johnson College’s Automotive Technology program director. He has 40 years of experience in the automotive field as a technician, service manager, trainer and teacher.