ATB: Hi! This is Amy, A Traveling Broad, and today I have something special for you. I am going to be talking road trips with my friend JC of CarCareIQ.com. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m really excited to talk to you.
JC: Glad to be here! This is great.
ATB: So, do you want to tell us a little bit about what you cover on your channel (website)?
JC: My channel is CarCareIQ.com. My goal is to help people to understand their vehicles better, help them to be able to talk to their mechanic intelligently, understand what their mechanics are talking about when they come up with a repair that needs to be done, and maybe even be able to do some small maintenance or repairs themselves.
We have these cars in our lives and they’re typically the second most expensive thing that we have and most people are like “I know where to put the key, I know where to put the gas, I know how to turn the stereo up.
ATB: Exactly. That sounds like me!
ATB: It’s definitely good to at least know the basics. I think your channel is providing a really great resource for all of us.
So, let’s dive into road trips. I love taking road trips but I always want to make sure that the car is safe.
I went on a road trip a couple of years ago with my boyfriend and the car seemed fine and we ended up on the side of the road in town with a bad radiator that he had to fix on the fly which he was able to do. Luckily, he’s very handy like yourself.
So, how do we know if our car is suitable for a road trip?
JC: If you are good with your regular maintenance, most of the time you’re going to feel confident in the vehicle that you have. Maybe it’s, you know, you have your brakes checked, have your oil changed on a regular basis, have your fluids all checked and changed when the manufacturer recommends them to be done. If you do all those regular maintenance-type of things, you should be fine.
If you haven’t, you might want to say I need to set up a checkup and have some of these things checked by my mechanic that I trust so that you do have more confidence.
The one thing that I have to say about cars is they’re mechanical things. They’re always in a state of wearing out.
ATB: Especially if you drive a lot.
JC: Especially if you drive a lot. City driving is worse on it. Long trips are actually easier on a vehicle and catching up on your maintenance might be a good thing to do.
ATB: How do you decide if your car is too old to safely take on a trip and you should consider renting a car?
JC: If you’ve been taking care of your vehicle, you should have a fairly good confidence level in how far you can go. Hey I drive around town, I drive it 60 to 100 miles to the next town to visit somebody and I’m confident in that and now I’m going to take a trip across the country? You’re going to have to feel that out.
I don’t know if I can just say mileage. You know, I drive a Toyota that’s got 250,000 miles on it. I’ll get in that and I’ll drive it cross country.
If you’ve done all your maintenance, it’s probably going to be fine but as a mechanical vehicle, there’s always a chance that something’s going to happen. You know, do a good checklist. It’s going to reduce the amount of the odds that you will have a major breakdown.
ATB: Right. Are there some things that I can do myself as a check before I go on a trip?
JC: Sure. If you have some experience with checking things out, I have a basic number of things that you want to check yourself:
- Check your interior and exterior lights.
- Check your wipers. You want to make sure that they’re good if you’re going into a rainy place. If it’s in the wintertime going into someplace where it might snow a bunch.
- Check your belts.
- Check your hoses.
- Check your tires. Make sure that you have plenty of tread for the conditions that you’re going to be in.
- In the summertime, I always check the A/C because there’s nothing more miserable than, you know, being on a road trip and the A/C is not working. You’re worn out by the time you get to wherever you want to be. [In the wintertime, check your heat].
ATB: So, do you have any suggestions on what car-related items I should have with me at all times when I’m traveling whether it’s short trips or longer road trips?
JC: Sure. If you have a roadside assistance membership, make sure you have your membership card with you. If you have a car manual for your car…
ATB: That’s a good point.
JC: …and basically, this is just your owner’s manual. Most people have a GPS app on their phone. I recommend that you find one that you can use that will let you download maps that you can use offline because I’ve been in places where GPS is spotty and the phone goes south. It’s always good to have a paper map as a backup. Phone charger. I like to keep a phone charger in my car at all times. And then before I go, I usually make sure that I have my vehicle equipped with a working jack, a lug wrench, and a good spare with air in it.
ATB: That’s a good point. A lot of times cars come with those little donuts and you’re not supposed to drive long distances. Or you find that your spare is the flat that you took off before and then you’re really in trouble!
JC: Yeah, make sure you have air in the spare.
ATB: Very good point.
Are there any things that we should take based on the time of year? So, if it’s colder weather and like an emergency road kit kind of thing vs. summertime, what would be the differences in the additional items that you may want to add to your kit based on the time of year?
JC: Having a gallon of water. You could use it to top off your coolant if you need to in the summertime, but in the wintertime you don’t want to put that in your car because it’ll freeze like a block of ice. It’s one thing I recommend not putting in your vehicle in the wintertime.
I try to keep protein bars in the wintertime, some candles, a space blanket, poncho, those kinds of things.
ATB: So, one last question for you, JC, before we wrap this up: What do we do if our car still breaks down after all the precautions we take?
JC: If you don’t have some sort of roadside assistance membership, that would probably provide a little bit of peace of mind for you if you don’t feel mechanical and you’re like, I really want to make sure that I have some sort of backup. If something like this happens, most of them have some sort of towing option, maybe a rental car option.
And sometimes even your car insurance will have towing and rental so you might want to check if your car insurance has a rental or towing on it. It may be a couple of dollars extra a month just to add that to your current car insurance. You might check that out instead of going with maybe AAA or some other roadside of assistance membership.
ATB: I think some credit cards may offer that as a benefit, too, so that may be worth looking at the small print on your benefits.
Did you have anything else you wanted to add before we wrap this up?
JC: I can’t think of anything right now other than the fact that we’ll put together that Emergency Kit Checklist and add that in the comments below and have that for your group.
ATB: I’m looking forward to using your tips.
JC: Get out and get some miles on the car.
ATB: Yeah, I know. My boyfriend can tell when I’ve been home too much. He’ll be like, “Okay, we’ll at least go on a day trip. Find somewhere you want to go. I’m like, “Oh, thank goodness! Get me out of the house!”
Thanks so much again for joining us!
JC: Thank you for having me.