According to the American Automobile Association’s December Holiday Travel Forecast, 115.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period, which is a 2.2% increase over last year.
The report goes on to caution travelers who are driving that Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, will be the most congested days on the road. After Christmas, Saturday, December 30, is expected to be the day when many people will be heading back home or traveling to New Year’s Eve destinations, so an increase in traffic compared to a normal Saturday is anticipated. The experts say the best times to hit the road will be before lunchtime or after 7pm.
If a road trip is part of your holiday plans, preparing your vehicle for holiday travel is essential to ensure a safe and smooth journey. Here are five things drivers should do to get their vehicles ready for Christmas travel:
1. Perform a Comprehensive Vehicle Check
- Check the oil level and quality.
- Ensure the brake fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant levels are adequate.
- Inspect the battery for corrosion and check its charge.
- Verify that all lights, including headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, are working properly.
- Examine the tires for proper inflation, tread depth, and overall condition. Don’t forget to also check the spare tire.
2. Brake Inspection
- Have the brake system inspected to ensure it is in good working order.
- Check brake pads and rotors for wear and replace them if necessary.
- Ensure that the brake fluid is at the recommended level and free of contaminants.
3. Check the Cooling System
- Inspect the radiator and hoses for leaks and damage.
- Ensure the radiator is filled with the appropriate coolant mixture.
- Consider flushing the cooling system if it’s been a while since the last service.
4. Winterize Your Vehicle
- Check and replace wiper blades if they are worn, and ensure the windshield washer fluid is topped up with a winter-grade solution.
- Test the heater and defroster to ensure they are working effectively.
- Verify that all doors, including the trunk, open and close properly.
5. Prepare an Emergency Kit
- Assemble or update an emergency kit that includes items like a first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, a basic tool kit, and non-perishable snacks.
- Pack essential documents, such as your driver’s license, registration, insurance information, and any necessary roadside assistance memberships.
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged, and consider bringing a portable phone charger.
Remember to plan your route in advance, check the weather forecast, and allow extra time for potential delays. Safe travels and happy holidays!