When Bertha Benz set out on her famous 1888 road trip, things didn’t always go as planned. Blogger Alex Perdikis recently told how at one point during the history-making trip, Bertha used her hatpin to unclog a fuel line. It worked and Bertha drove into the record books.
People don’t wear hat pins anymore. Car engines have changed. But, you can still prepare ahead of time to stay safe and handle roadside emergencies. Here’s what you need to do before you’re caught in a serious situation without a hatpin to your name.
A Maintained Car is a Happy Car
Yes, it’s boring. Yes, it’s inconvenient. But, keeping your car in good working order is one way of making sure you’re not sitting at the side of the road waiting for a tow truck someday.
It’s easy to put car maintenance off, but make the time. Here are four maintenance tasks you have to stay on top of.
- Check the oil, change the oil. Today’s vehicles aren’t the oil burners of old, but checking oil levels every couple of gives you a heads up about issues that may be going on in your car. Oil also wears out over time. Check your owner’s manual and change the oil as the manufacturer recommends.
- Your car breathes freer with a clean air filter: Clogged air filters reduce performance and, if clogged too much, cause a car to overheat. If that happens, you’re going to wish you’d spent the comparatively small amount of money for a clean air filter than what you’re going to have to pay now.
- Replace tired old brake pads: You know that squealing you hear when you apply the brake? It’s not a good thing. That sound means you’ve neglected your brakes, your disc-brake pads in particular. If you keep going without replacing the pads, you’ll damage the rotor. You’re talking a major repair there.
- Replace worn-out shock absorbers: It’s not just a matter of comfort. Shock absorbers also keep your car’s suspension healthy. Shock absorbers work with springs to absorb and dissipate energy, extending the life of the spring. The condition of the roads you generally drive determine when you need to replace shocks, but average time is about every 50,000 miles.
Keep a Safety Kit Handy
Certainly keeping your car well-maintained reduces your chances of a roadside emergency. But, nothing is a sure thing, particularly on the road. To protect yourself, put together an emergency kit and keep it in your car.
Include the following essentials in your emergency kit:
- Flashlight & extra batteries
- Owner’s manual
- Basic toolkit
- Bottled water & sealed food
- Spare accessory belts
- Car oil
- Jumper cables
- Work gloves & rags
- Tire sealant & pressure gauge
If you take medications, add a small supply to your kit. Replace items over time to keep everything fresh and usable. Of course, your registration, insurance information and owner’s manual should already be in your car.
You may never have to use your roadside emergency kit, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.