Before You Take a Road Trip, Do This


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A car is often seen as the first taste of freedom for a teenage driver. But getting behind the wheel, especially for longer trips, calls for skills and preparation. According to Allstate Roadside Services, younger drivers were the ones most likely to have car trouble when on the road.

Here are some tips to consider before your trip.

Know How to Change a Tire

“Changing a tire can be a daunting task, but is actually quite straightforward with the right tools and preparation,” said Sarah Robinson, a Michelin tire safety expert. Ms. Robinson recommends “evaluating the task start to finish, before you even begin.” This includes making sure you are in a safe location and that you have the proper tools to change the flat.

Directions on how to change a tire are on this Bridgestone Tire page, along with an instructional video.

If you are unsure, reach out to a roadside assistance provider, like AAA (if you are a member); car insurance providers like Geico, AllState, Nationwide, State Farm and Farmers all offer emergency roadside assistance options, as do some car purchase packages.

Ms. Robinson added that “many flat tires can be prevented altogether with proper tire maintenance, so try to avoid the situation by checking out your tires once a month.”

Pack an Emergency Kit

In case you do get stranded while waiting for roadside assistance, an emergency kit will come in handy.

AAA suggests keeping a year-round version in your car with the following:

Mobile phone and charger

Warning devices (flares or triangles)

First aid kit

Jumper cables

Flashlight and extra batteries

Duct tape

Basic tool kit (tire pressure gauge, screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench, etc.)

Rags, paper towels and/or baby wipes

Nonperishable food items (nuts, dried fruit energy bars, snacks for pets if you are traveling with them)

Drinking water

For a cold-weather version, add:

Ice scraper

Traction aids (sand, salt, cat litter)

Snow shovel

Blankets

Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)

Do Your Homework

AAA also advises not to ignore warning lights, and to check tire pressure, engine oil level and exterior lights at least once a month.

Here’s a trick to see if your tire treads are worn out, from Kevin Burke, the vice president of marketing at SimpleTire: “Place a penny into the most shallow tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of his head is still visible, then the tire needs to be replaced.”

Farmers Insurance suggests keeping a portable charger that can inflate tires and charge electronics.

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