Your road trip planner: be prepared for a breakdown

I’d like to round out our road trip planner suggestions from the last Ask Elvio blog about what to bring when embarking on your next road trip. Here I’ll share some ideas about the mechanical end of traveling in your car to go see the sights, go see Grandma or just GO! We’ll mention a few things to do before you leave but most of this post will be about what to do if you become broken down or stranded while on the move. Just like they teach in the Boy Scouts, the secret to success is to Be Prepared.

PREVENTION IS A BIG PLUS

First off, there are some pretty obvious things that almost don’t bear repeating but sometimes we forget and a little reminder couldn’t hurt. For example, don’t drive off without a spare tyre in the boot and make sure it’s in good shape and properly inflated. Also make sure you have the equipment needed to change a tyre and that at least one person in the vehicle knows how to change a flat.

Make sure your engine oil is topped off and that it hasn’t been ages since it was changed. Check the water in the radiator and the fluid in the battery while you’re at it. These preventative measures are meant to help keep you out of trouble but, in the long run, sometimes stuff still happens. Being prepared includes expecting the types of things that could go wrong and avoiding them if possible but also having specific steps to follow as part of your road trip planner.

For example, if you’re a member of an auto club, make sure you have the necessary documentation and contact numbers. If you have to call someone, however, you’ll need to make sure your mobile’s charged. A car-charger for your phone is a great idea to make sure you have the power you need. It can also often do double duty for your kids’ tablet or laptop.

ROAD TRIP PLANNER SPECIFICS

We’ve talked about: what to take, what to check, what to do if there’s a problem. Your road trip planner can also include places you’d like to see/visit. Remember, though, if you take a route that’s far off the beaten path you may end up in a place where there’s no mobile phone coverage. You’ll want to be prepared for this eventuality when considering going to out of the way locations. In areas like this, you’re also less likely to find a whole lot of cars going by that will stop to help.

One simple solution is to carry a Sat-Phone in your vehicle. These are like mobile phones except that, rather than connecting your call to a terrestrial tower for transmission they bounce the signals off of an orbiting satellite. This means that they’ll work virtually anywhere.

But what if you have just the opposite situation? In other words, you have great mobile reception because you’re in an urban area and lots of cars going by because you’re sitting, broken down, on a busy four-lane highway. This can be seriously unnerving, especially if you haven’t been able to get your car off to the side and you’re still sitting idle in a traffic lane.

The first rule is, don’t get out of the car and try to cross the busy highway. Turn on your hazards, and your interior light if it’s dark outside. Call your auto club or, if you don’t have one call the traffic authorities. These are numbers it pays to have within easy access when you’re traveling. You can put them right there in the front page of your road trip planner.

When you’re having car problems on a busy roadway, make sure you coast over as far as possible to the side or shoulder of the road. It also will be helpful to get as far away as possible from any curves in the road behind you. This will help other motorists see and avoid you and also make it easier once you’re able to pull back onto the roadway.

Here at Blue Toro Mobile Mechanics, we’re always trying to think of ways to help customers get more out of their driving experiences. We know that drawing up lists such as those we made for your road trip planner are great for smoothing out the wrinkles that just seem to naturally creep into everyday life. If there’s anything we can do for you just give us a call.

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Who is Elvio?

Elvio is a seasoned Motor Mechanic with 25 years experience in the automotive industry. Well-known for asking the most obvious questions and his bizarre obsession with Datsuns (having owned more than 10), he seems to think the 70s was the golden era of motoring. Current rumours suggest he owns more than 100 caps, prefers Belgium bier to Australian and has been confused with the real Speedy Gonzalez. Well-known at the racetrack for getting maximum performance on a budget and his obsessive attention to detail, he is now taking his passion for all things with an engine to help his customers in his blog. Ask Elvio.