Lower gas prices in 2016 are motivating more Americans to hit the road for a vacation. If you’re planning to head out, be careful not to offset those gas savings. Here are five common road-trip mistakes to avoid this travel season.
Letting your gas tank drop below the half-full mark
As you go about your busy week, you might have a routine of filling up when your car’s low-gas light goes on. However, when you’re en route to that vacation destination, keep your gas tank at least half-full. “When you’re in West Texas and you see a gas station, you stop and fill up,” said Erin Gifford, family travel blogger for Kidventurous.com. “You may not see another gas station for 200 miles.”
Relying only on GPS for navigation
Take the time to map out your route before you hit the road. Even if you have a GPS system, there’s a chance it might not work when you need it most — or give you bad directions. “Always bring along printouts of the necessary maps to have for references throughout the trip,” said Gary Flom, president and CEO of automotive retailer BNF Partners.
Driving with underinflated or overinflated tires
Neglecting to properly inflate the tires can affect your vehicle’s maneuverability and put you at a higher risk of an accident on slick roads. Also, the summer heat can make your tires expand, so it’s important to avoid overinflating, according to CAA South Central Ontario, a Canadian auto club. Overinflated tires can wear out your tire tread unevenly and might increase your chances of getting a flat.
Taking your own car, which could take a beating
If you’re taking a particularly long road trip, you might want to look into renting a car. “Everyone loves a road trip — except your trusty family vehicle, which bears the brunt of all that extra mileage,” said Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of car rental comparison site, AutoSlash. “Consider renting instead, and save the depreciation.”
Forgetting to service your car before the trip
Take your vehicle to the dealership or mechanic for basic service well ahead of time. A quick vehicle inspection, inflating the tires, and checking the brakes and car fluids is enough to determine whether you’re fit for the road. Then you can reduce the chances of breakdowns en route, according to Samarins.com, a car advice website.