Memorial Day Road Trip Travel Forecast & Tips

According to AAA Travel, a significant rebound in the number of travelers is anticipated this Memorial Day holiday weekend. Looking at the data, more than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home on a Memorial Day road trip. This is an increase of 60% from last year when only 23 million traveled.

Memorial Day Road Trip Woman in Car

Last year’s number, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000, dropped during the early phase of the pandemic. The 2021 projection still represents nearly 6 million fewer travelers than in 2019. 

If you are planning a Memorial Day road trip, take some time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road. Here are a few road trip tips:

  • Confirm that your tires are in good condition and properly inflated
  • Test your battery
  • Check your lights to make sure all are working
  • Make sure wiper blades are in good shape
  • Check fluid levels
  • Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor\
  • Plan your route and stops before you leave
  • Keep a cell phone charger with a car adaptor in your car
  • Download an app like GasBuddy so you can find the best gas prices 
  • Consider the Waze app for real-time traffic info and driving directions

If your plans include traveling on toll roads, using a toll app can be a real time saver. There are state specific options like FastToll (for Illinois) or PayTollo, which covers multiple regions. Whatever your plans are, have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Three Ways to Get in Your Car and Give This Season

It has been a difficult year for everyone. 2020 has had us facing serious crises, both health and economic. Looking back through the challenges and hardships, they have also brought us opportunities to pull together and help one another.

Santa in Car

It is that spirit that inspires this post, and hopefully may inspire with some creative ways to give and serve this holiday season.

1. Help someone by taking their vehicle for maintenance.

In many cases, people are not using their cars as they normally do. This could mean that much needed maintenance is being neglected. People with health conditions that put them at high risk may be reluctant to take their care in for service. A great way to help a friend or family member this season might be to offer to take their vehicle in for them. Many auto service shops are currently offering pick up and delivery of cars for service. You might be able to assist someone with making these arrangements.

2. Help someone by giving them a ride.

In response to the health crisis, businesses and restaurants are now offering “curbside pick-up” or “drive-up” services. Unfortunately, many of the people in our community who rely on public transportation are unable to take advantage of these accommodations. It is challenging for those in this situation to do things ranging from grocery shopping, to getting a COVID test, to picking up a meal at a fast food restaurant. Providing a ride could be a wonderful way to help out.

3. Help someone by delivering a holiday surprise.

Some people are just feeling sad, lonely, and isolated from the world. Many are missing celebrations with family and friends, and not attending traditional events they normally look forward to at the holidays. Think about the people in your circle of friends, family, and acquaintances, and consider surprising them with an unexpected doorstep delivery. Festive food items, a small potted Christmas tree, or a gift bag full of holiday dvds could brighten their season more than you can imagine!

If you are not sure about how to find people in need, try contacting local churches or community organizations to see if they have a volunteer program for helping people with transportation challenges. You can also try connecting with your community by using the free NextDoor app.

Wishing you very happy and healthy holidays!

Planning a Thanksgiving Road Trip? Expect Lighter Travel

According to the American Automobile Association Travel Forecast, the number of travelers hitting the road for Thanksgiving this year will be much lighter than normal. This is no surprise considering the effects of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Julie Hall, AAA Public Relations Manager states, “With health and government officials stressing that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick, AAA anticipates at least a 10% drop in travel – the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.”

Thanksgiving

Every year, AAA makes projects for travel numbers based on various models. Mid-October models indicated there would be up to 50 million Thanksgiving travelers, down from 55 million in 2019. Given the ever-evolving landscape, which includes rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel health notices, AAA now projects that the actual numbers will be even lower this year.

If you are among those who are healthy and do still plan to travel, make sure you are prepared. Look up state and local guidelines where you are, along your route, and at your destination to learn about any restrictions that may be in place. If you are set to proceed, here are a few preparation tips that will be helpful for any auto journey:

  • Be sure your vehicle is ready for the trip with a service check. Things to inspect include: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  • Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices along the way.
  • Be sure your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting the good old paper kind.
  • When packing the car, you may need to remove things you normally keep in the trunk in order to make room for crockpots, casserole dishes, and luggage. Just be sure not to leave behind your roadside emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.

Have a safe road trip and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Don’t Get Stuck In a Scary Situation – Take Care of Your Car!

Don’t Get Stuck In a Scary Situation - Take Care of Your CarMost of us associate October with Halloween and Trick or Treat, but did you know that October is also Fall Car Care Month? The Car Care Council recommends that you take care of your car with a seasonal maintenance visit so you can avoid the potentially scary situation of a breakdown leaving you stranded. 

Regular vehicle maintenance is  essential for assuring the safety and dependability of your vehicle. Fall Car Care Month is the perfect time to take care of your car with some much needed attention before the punishing winter weather sets in. 

The AAA Exchange offers this checklist as a guide to what items you should have inspected to take care of your car fall maintenance needs: 

Battery, Terminals, Cables, & Charging System – Have your technician test the battery and charging system. Confirm that the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

Drive Belts & Engine Hoses – Have the underside of accessory drive belts checked for cracks or fraying. The cooling system hoses should also be inspected for leaks, cracks, brittleness, or loose clamps. 

Brakes – If your car has been showing signs of a brake problem, have the system inspected by your technician to ensure all components are in proper working order.

Tires – Have your tires inspected and replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear may be a sign of improper alignment or wheel balance, or even an indication of suspension problems. Have all of these things checked if your tread is wearing too fast.

Tire inflation pressure should be checked, as well. Did you know that tire pressure drops as temperatures drop? Pressure should be checked more frequently in fall and winter.

If you plan to get winter tires, now is the time.

Fluid Levels – This is another thing you can check yourself. If your coolant is low, add a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water. If you don’t need to add fresh coolant, you should test the effectiveness of the coolant in your tank. You can buy a tester or ask your technician to test it for you.

Fill the windshield washer fluid tank with a winter cleaning solution that contains antifreeze elements to prevent it from freezing.

Check the transmission, brake and power steering fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum required levels.

Air Filter – You can check your air filter by holding it up to the light. If there is no visibility through it, it should be replaced. If you are not sure, have your technician check it when your other services are being done.

Lights & Wiper Blades – Verify that all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights are functioning properly. Replace any wiper blades that leave streaks or miss spots. If you see a lot of snow in your area, you can install winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup.

 

Holiday Gifts for Drivers

Do you still have some people to shop for on your Christmas list? Friends or family members who have you stumped for ideas? Consider an auto-related gift! Just about everyone drives, and sometimes items for the car are things people just don’t think to buy for themselves. If your loved ones own a car, they are likely to appreciate something from our list below. 

christmas-car-3739323_1280

Auto Service Gift Certificates

Let someone know you care about them by making it a little easier for them to stay safe on the road. Check with auto service pros in their area to see if they sell gift certificates. If you know someone who needs a new set of tires, a gift certificate from a local tire dealer will be a much appreciated gift!

Car Wash Coupons

Even those who prefer to do their own washing will appreciate having these in the winter. Keeping a clean car is especially important in the cold weather months when the roads are covered in salty slush.

Auto Mats

Custom fitted, all-season rubber floor mats are a great gift idea for pet owners, parents with small children, and anyone who likes to eat and drink on the go.

Car Parking Sensor System

Trying to park a large vehicle is a small or crowded garage can be very stressful. A car parking sensor system makes the job much easier and will help drivers avoid scratches and dings.

Car Vacuum

A quality portable vacuum cleaning makes keeping a clean ride so much easier. There are a variety of options available at a wide range of price points.

Car Windshield Snow Cover & Sun Shade Protector

Drivers who have their car parked outside all day will appreciate this all-season windshield protection. This easy-to-install protector keeps the car cool in the summer and free of ice and snow in the winter.

Emergency Kit and Folding Shovel

A roadside emergency kit is a great item to keep in the trunk along with a folding shovel. Too often drivers are not prepared for roadside problems, so this gift could be a lifesaver!

Digital Tire Pressure Monitor

Keeping tires properly inflated is essential for assuring safe driving and preserving tire tread. A digital tire pressure monitor makes checks easy. This is especially great for drivers of older cars, which may not have TPMS.

Portable Air Compressor

This is not only a great emergency item to keep in your car, a portable air compressor will be useful for filling a leaking tire until it can be fixed. It is also great for other jobs like inflating a camping mattress.

Car Cellphone Charger and Holder

Drivers who use their phones for GPS directions or like to make hands-free calls on the road might like a cell phone holder and a car charger. While some newer vehicles have built in phone connection technology, there are plenty of drivers who do not yet have that feature.

Here’s hoping your shopping goes smoothly, and that your holidays are merry and bright!

Be Thankful for Auto Safety

This is the time of year when everyone seems to be busy preparing for holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving Day is coming right up and soon we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. As you prepare for holiday travel, here is one more thing to be thankful for – auto safety.

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Auto travel has become an established and commonplace part of our lives. While we do think about driving safely and keeping our vehicles well-maintained, most of us probably take for granted the amazing auto safety features that have been designed specifically for our protection. Through the years, automotive manufacturers have invested heavily in the development of innovative safety features, which have saved countless lives on the road.

While you are counting your blessings around the table this year, this post has some auto safety trivia you can share with friends and family. We should all be thankful for these innovations:

Safety Belts

seat belts

Safety belts were first introduced as standard  by the Swedish automobile manufacturer, Saab, in 1958. Earlier, in 1946, California neurologist, Dr. C. Hunter Sheiden  first conceived of the idea of seat belts. His concern arose greatly from the high number of head injuries he saw in emergency rooms. His research was published in a 1955 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He proposed the retractable seat belt concept, as well as many other automotive safety measures. By 1968, the U. S. Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard required that all vehicles, with the exception of buses, have seat belts installed in all designated seating positions.

Airbags

AirBags

American Industrial Engineer, John Hetrick was issued a United States patent in 1953 for the first of his airbag designs. His approach was to apply his experiences with compressed air from torpedoes during his service in the Navy to a device that would provide protection during automobile accidents. Although Hetrick worked with the major American automobile corporations at the time, the airbag concept’s first commercial use did not occur until 1971, when it was tested in a few Ford cars. By September 1, 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 went into effect, and required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat.

Safety Glass Windows

windshield

The concept of shatter-resistant glass was discovered inadvertently in 1903 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus. When he dropped a glass flask filled with a dried collodion film, he observed that the glass coated with the film cracked, but retained its shape. A few decades later this laminated glass began to be installed  in automobiles. In 1970, the U.S. government formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since that time, four Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for automotive glass have been enacted, greatly improving driver and passenger safety during collisions.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

More Travelers Than Ever Expected for Independence Day

Next week a record number of people will be travelling on America’s roadways for Independence Day vacations. According to AAA, a new record will be set with 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day.

Independence Day Travel

Travel  numbers are up this year for several  reasons. Lower gas prices have more people making road trip plans and a robust economy has greater numbers of Americans planning vacations across the United States.

When making your plans for your Independence Day holiday or other summer travel, make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road.  Start with this check list:

  • Test your battery
  • Check your lights to make sure all are working
  • Make sure wiper blades are in good shape
  • Check fluid levels
  • Check the pressure on all tires including your spare
  • Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor

Other ideas for planning a smoother trip include:

  • Make sure your maps are up-to-date – whether paper or GPS
  • Download an app like GasBuddyto make sure you find the best gas prices
  • Check out the Waze app for real-time traffic info
  • Pack snacks and drinks for the car to save time and money
  • Plan your route and stops before you leave
  • Bring along a cell phone charger with a car adapter

Where ever you are planning to go, have fun and have a safe trip!

Show Your Tires You Love Them for Valentine’s Day

You Auto CareDon’t forget to show your tires some love this Valentine’s Day by making sure their pressure is right. Not only will your tires love you for extending their service life, you will be happier because properly inflated tires mean safer driving and better gas mileage.

Unscrew the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You will hear a hissing sound when you first press down, but it stops once you press all the way down. You only need a few seconds to get an accurate reading. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out the manufacturer’s recommendation for proper tire pressure. Although you will see a tire pressure number on the tire, that number is the maximum pressure, so you’ll want to inflate to the pressure recommended in the manual instead. Once you’ve reached the right pressure, replace the valve cap. Do the same for all four tires.

If your tires need air, you can fill them with a portable compressor, or use the air pump at your gas station. Filling the tires is a lot like checking the pressure except that instead of pressing the gauge to the valve stem, you’ll be pressing the fitting on the air hose to the stem.  Watch  the pressure as you inflate until you reach the right pressure number. If your tires are over inflated, remove the excess air from the tires with your gauge. Remember that hissing sound? When you hear it, let it go for a moment, then recheck the pressure. The more experienced you become with checking your tires, the better you will be able to tell how long you need to inflate or deflate to get the right pressure.

Remember, even if your tires look okay, that does not mean the pressure is correct. By the time a tire looks underinflated, tire pressure is extremely low. Make sure you catch it before it gets to that point.

 

Make Regular Auto and Tire Care Your 2019 Resolution

happy-year-2019How much thought do you give to your vehicle and how it is running? Do you only notice your tires if they are flat? Perhaps your resolution for 2019 should be making a commitment to preventative auto and tire care. Consistent auto and tire care not only make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means you will be safer on the road.

When it comes to taking care of your tires, the most important things to check regularly are tire pressure and tread depth. Set a reminder on your calendar to check your tire pressure at least once a month. Check your owner’s manual to find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. The pressure of your spare tire should also be checked to assure it is ready when you need it.

Make sure the tread depth of your tires is sufficient by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into several different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time for a new set of tires. If the tread is in good shape, Abe’s head will be covered to about the forehead hairline.

In order to be sure your vehicle is running properly and performing at its best, you must stay on schedule with recommended regular maintenance services. While it is easy to put these services off, it is always far less costly in terms of time and money to catch problems before they become serious and expensive. The services listed below are commonly recommended, but you should consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s suggested services and frequency.

  • Coolant Flush and Replacement
  • Oil Change
  • Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
  • Brake Inspection
  • Check Belts & Hoses
  • Filters – Air and Fuel
  • Battery & Cables
  • Lights
  • Exhaust System
  • Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades

Both your vehicle and tires will also benefit from consistent tire balancing and rotation service. These services should be performed in accordance with your owner’s manual recommended schedule. Tire balancing assures even tire wear and provides a smooth ride by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation will greatly extend the life of your tires. Manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines.

Establishing a regular care routine allows you to drive with confidence knowing that you are traveling safely. You will also get to enjoy your vehicle and tire investment much longer.

Holiday Travel Season is Here!

christmas carThe American Automobile Association Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast reports that more than a third of Americans will travel over the holidays. This is the highest number since AAA has been tracking holiday travel in 2001.

According to the AAA forecast, a recent drop to the cheapest national gas price averages of the year and an increase in disposable income are motivating more Americans to roadtrip this holiday season. Gas prices averaged $2.46 for the first week of December, which is two cents per gallon less than one year ago.

If a road trip is part of your holiday plans, make sure you are safe and prepared. Here are a few preparation tips to keep in mind:

  • Be sure your vehicle is ready! Have a service check including: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  • Get an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices on your route.
  • Update your GPS or print a fresh set of directions for your trip. If you are the old school type, visit a gas station or AAA for a new set of paper maps.
  • As you pack the car, do not remove roadside necessities to make room for packages and luggage. (No matter how tempting it may be to do so) You may need emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.

Wishing everyone happy holiday travels!