IT’s weekend and you want to bring your family for a weekend vacation. Be warned, though: Hitting the highway for a long haul could turn fun into glum. Typical scenarios include the kids getting bored and antsy (“Are we there yet?” sound familiar?), the car/van/SUV is not exactly comfy (too hot, rough ride, etc.), you’re burning through fuel faster than your bank account can keep up, and/or you’re simply directionally challenged.
So before you round up the family and friends and head toward the national park, theme park or a relative’s house a few miles away, best to make sure your vehicle’s really ready to roll. “You want to first make a checklist of the essentials,” says Peter MacGillivray, vice president of events and communication for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), an automotive trade organization with 6,500-plus member companies.
“The list should include things like getting your air conditioner serviced, checking the battery for corrosion, testing wiper blades (it might be time to change them), making sure the tires are properly inflated and aligned correctly, inspecting hoses and belts for cracks, and replacing all fluids: oil, transmission, brake, power steering, coolant, etc. That’s a good start.”
The finishing touch, MacGillivray says, is to look into the bevy of cool automotive aftermarket products designed to enhance the road trip ride and the daily drive. “SEMA-member companies have been making innovative appearance, performance, comfort, convenience, fuel-saving and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles for more than 50 years.”
For a long road trip, MacGillivray offered some suggestions:
• Beat the heat: There are tons of products designed to keep drivers cool and comfortable for the long, hot ride. They include window tinting and seat coolers. There’s even an app to tell you which side of the car the sun will be shining on during your vacation journey.
• Getting there: There’s nothing worse than being lost, especially after a long day’s drive with impatient kids about to explode. Be prepared with a GPS-equipped smartphone, along with a docking station and Bluetooth devices to ensure you’re able to use it hands-free.
• Fuel for thought: With a tank of gas costing as much as a motel room, any way to squeeze more miles out per gallon is a welcome relief. An easy and inexpensive way to improve your gas mileage is by replacing your old paper/cotton air filter with a new performance-type air filter. Another product that may help to save on fuel costs is “low roll resistance” tires.
• Creature comforts: Keep your passengers happy—especially the young and restless ones—with boredom—controlling technology devices such as TV screens mounted in the seats and/or dash, good for hours of video game playing and movie-watching fun.
“If you’re going to be on the road a good amount of time, products like these can really make a difference,” says MacGillivray. “They can be found almost everywhere, from specialty shops to auto retailers to big box stores. And like everything else, they are also sold online.”
For more information, visit www.enjoythedrive.com.North American Precis Syndicate