MINNEAPOLIS — Next week, roads and highways will be packed with families on the move for Thanksgiving.
AAA expects more than 55 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles or more from home.
With that in mind, we wanted to know: How can you prepare your car for long road trips?
There are a few common mistakes drivers make before leaving.
Galvin Byrd was thinking about visiting his family this winter in St. Louis. The drive would take nearly nine hours to get there from Minneapolis. Luckily, he has rarely had car problems in the past.
“I always tune them up and make sure they’re running good, might get some extra tires before I make the trip,” Byrd said.
It is the type of preparation auto technicians can appreciate.
“That’s the biggest concern for when people leave is you don’t want to get stuck on the side of the road,” said Paul Edgar, shop leader at Bobby and Steve’s Auto World in Minneapolis.
Edgar said tires are the biggest priority drivers should check on before their road trip. Tread depth is key if snow will be on the road, and also the rubber condition is important if the tires are old.
“And then pressure as well because low pressure is usually the reason why tires go out,” Edgar said.
Don’t forget to keep up with your fifth tire, the spare.
“That’s gotten me before, too. I changed my tire to only have another flat tire on my car,” said driver Charlie Christianson.
An engine that could overheat is another issue with long drives.
“If your fluids aren’t up to date, if the conditions are poor, if the level is low, you’re looking at overheating the car,” said Edgar.
Besides motor oil, key fluids to top off include transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant and windshield wiper fluid.
Testing your batter will be especially important as the temperature drops. You can buy your own for less than $20 online.
“We do see a lot of people that come in the day of or an hour before they’re leaving and they’re asking to have something looked at on their car,” said Edgar. “And if you don’t schedule adequate time for us to repair the car, you might get delayed on your trip.”
Even if your car gets the green light from auto technicians, there are often bumps in the road. Christianson keeps an emergency kit in his car that includes a blanket, water, and reflectors.
If you’ve been driving for hours on end, stopping for a break or letting someone else in the car drive could be a safe decision.
“A lot of people drive through the day and that night, that’s a little much driving for people,” said Byrd.