Steam swirls through the air, billowing from beneath the hood of a 65 Ford convertible. An exotic woman slowly steps out of the car. Sweltering in the summer heat, she waits on the side of the road for the next weary traveler to offer her a chivalrous hand.
Only the guy never shows, and she ends up getting a toothless tow-guy instead.
Rather than being swept off her feet, she’s shipped to a local car lot, only to find she’s going to owe more money than she has on her would-be awesome vacation.
Not Being Prepared
Not preparing for emergencies when you travel is the easiest way to end up paying more than you need when accidents inevitably happen. “Emergencies” are more than stopping at the 7/11 for a slushy, only to discover that the machine isn’t in order. We’re talking triple digit payouts. Blown gaskets, cracked radiators, flat tires; they can’t be predicted, but if you know how to handle them, you can save tons of money in repair bills. But only if you’ve done your homework before leaving the city limits.
The Excitement Is Just Too Much
When you get ready to leave home for vacation, there are so many things to consider that it becomes all too easy to leave something unchecked.
But prepping the car or your route aren’t one of those things that it’s okay to forget.
Maybe you think that since you just had the oil changed or the tires rotated, you don’t need to have it checked again. But those jobs didn’t cover all the parts and pieces that should be checked prior to travel.
Or perhaps you feel like you’re not going too far, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Well, all those “maybes” are mute once you’re standing on the side of the road. Those maybes quickly turn into “Are you kidding??” once you see the repair bill.
Plan and Prepare
While not all repair issues can be avoided, things like fluid levels, transmission status, belt condition, spark plug firing, or tire wear can easily be checked simply by getting your car serviced before you hit the road. Take care of every loose end possible when you’re thinking of going on a road trip.
5 Pre-Trip Actions To Take
If you don’t want to get overcharged, or taken for a ride (pun intended), put these 5 items into action before leaving home (or getting help).
1. Check your route. Know where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Check for travel centers along the way, and plan to take scheduled breaks – especially if you’re traveling in the heat of the summer. High temperatures outside and under your hood could cause you to blow a head gasket or other serious problem if you push your car past its limits. Trust me, you don’t want that repair bill just because you were too proud to take a couple of minutes to stop every few hours! And always pay attention to where you are when you’re on the road so if you do need a tow, you can tell them where you are.
2. Make your calls. Call different tow companies along your route and get an idea of prices for service. Don’t ever settle for the first price you’re given. When a company knows you’re smart enough to ask around, they’ll think twice about playing games.
3. Check the car. Take your car to a repair place you know and trust. If you don’t have one, find one. There’s nothing more valuable than a mechanic that’s in business for the customer first, rather than his own wallet. Let him check out your car, fender to fender. Often the good guys won’t charge you but if they do, it will be worth it to know your parts are in order before you leave.
4. Check your glove compartment. Make sure you have the owners’ manual, insurance card, and a flashlight in your glove compartment. Go one extra step and make sure you know what your policy covers before hitting the road. You may have roadside assistance, and that will come in handy if stranded.
5. Check your gear. Your car should be equipped with the tools required to change a tire. You’ll need a cross wrench, a spare tire, and a jack. Familiarize yourself with how to change a tire so you don’t have to rely on a service to bail you out over a job you could easily do yourself with a bit of know-how. Flares and caution signs are also useful to have with your jack and other accessories.
Don’t do any of these tips I just mentioned and you can guarantee that, should anything happen, you’ll pay a lot more than you would have if you had taken a a few minutes to do a little homework.