With summer in full swing, it's time to grab a bag of beef jerky, a cooler full of drinks, and hit the road with your family and friends. Before heading out, though, check out these common road trip hazards and tips for handling them. And, if you have roadside assistance, review the details of your plan so you don't get stranded for long on the side of the road should you run into one of these unfortunate (but common) hazards!
Flat tires and tire blowouts are common from May through October - the weather is at its hottest and drivers tend to be going farther and faster than they did in the colder months. On hot days, low air pressure could cause tires to overheat and add pressure to the side walls of the tires, causing rubber to start coming apart and creating a hole, cites the Basehor Sentinel . A blowout could result from an under-inflated tire, an overloaded vehicle, or by hitting a pothole or other road debris.
- To help prevent a tire blowout, monitor the inflation and level of wear on your tires. When you have your oil changed, get in the habit of asking your service professional to inspect your tires as well.
- If you feel a rapid loss of pressure in a tire, do not slam on the brakes; you could lose control of your car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that instead of slamming on the brakes, gradually release your foot from the gas pedal and look where you want your vehicle to go. Steer in that direction, turn on your hazard lights, and continue to slow down and pull off of the road.
An overheated engine could be the result of low coolant level. Older engines in particular are more likely to overheat on a hot day, especially if the air conditioning is running. Thankfully, there are ways you can stay cool without A/C .
- If you suspect that your engine is overheating, you hear rattling, or you see steam rising from your hood, flip on your hazard lights and pull over to the side of the road. Turn off your A/C and other gadgets and switch off the engine. If you're comfortable checking the car's coolant level, wait for the engine to cool down to do so; if not, consider calling roadside assistance. It could be dangerous to deal with an overheated engine.
Locked your keys in the car? It happens to the best of us, especially when we stray from our usual routine. You might keep a spare key at home for occasions like this, but that extra key won't do any good when you're miles from home.
- Consider making a copy of your car key and giving it to a passenger to keep in their purse, wallet, or pocket. Or, buy a special lanyard that can act as a souvenir of your trip, but also as a reminder to keep your keys around your neck when you take a pit stop.
- If you find yourself locked out of your car without a spare, give a local locksmith a call or dial up roadside assistance.
When you're cruising down a long stretch of interstate with your friends and your favorite songs, the last thing you want to deal with is a broken down car. Don't let a flat tire or dead battery ruin your day. Direct's roadside assistance program includes 24-hr emergency towing, jump start service for dead batteries, lost key and lockout service, and mechanical help. Enjoy your road trip. Read more about Direct’s roadside assistance program .