How to Prevent & Manage Roadside Problems on Road Trips

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long road with trees and grasses on both sides

Growing up in a family that takes road trips seriously – we travelled to and from Dauphin, Manitoba several times a year to visit relatives alone – my Dad has made sure that I know what to look for before I head out on a trip. Indeed, not only my Dad, but my siblings will also helpfully nag remind me to check everything before I go. Even last week when we dropped off Root Beer (our dog) at my parents who were dogsitting, my Dad couldn’t resist. He headed out to our SUV and checked all the fluids, tires and made sure everything sounded good before we hit the road. (And also found that my right rear tire is wearing out fairly fast, so looks like new tires for me pretty soon.)

The saying goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and when it comes to road trips, nothing could be truer. Esurance had commissioned research to find out exactly what we Albertans are up to when we are hitting the road and it turns out that we take safety seriously. Albertans are more prepared than most Canadians, with 45% of us getting oil changes done compared to a 35% national average. We are also more prepared for emergencies, with 44% of us making sure our road emergency kits are up to date and fully stocked, compared to only 1 in 3 Canadians overall.  Sixty-seven percent of us plan our route, 66% of us stock up on food and drinks and 47% pack up the car with entertainment such as music, books and movies.

I took off on my #EsuranceRoadTrip the beginning of July, having been chosen to introduce you all to Esurance, an online auto insurance company that launched in Alberta in 2015 – and Alberta is the only province in Canada where Esurance is available!

The fine folks at Esurance sent me on a week long road trip to Vancouver Island and while I was enjoying myself, you all got to enter the Fabulous Esurance Hit The Road Giveaway. The giveaway is live for a while longer, so make sure to enter! The prize is a Smart Driver Care Package that’s worth around $400 and includes a 4G Cell Booster!

If you want to read about my adventures, then read my Road Trip Recap – My Week on Vancouver Island.

adorable fishing village with an amazing bakery

Let’s get back to solving roadside problems. The most important thing that I can emphasize here is that being prepared will prevent a lot of things from happening in the first place!

Here’s basically my Dad’s list of what he taught me to look for/prepare for before a trip so that when you DO have problems, they are minimal and manageable.

long road with message on How to Prevent & Manage Roadside Problems on Road Trips

1.Tires – Prepare for the Worst

Tires are always first. Let’s face it, most people don’t even think about their tires until one of them goes flat. Check the tread to make sure that they aren’t too worn and check the air pressure to make sure they have enough air. Check the spare tire and make sure that it’s inflated enough for use as well. Make sure that you have a jack and appropriate tire changing tools. Esurance has a great blog article on Spring Maintenance for Tires that can be done any time before a road trip as well.

If you are prepared, andyou do get a flat tire, you can safely pull over and change the tire because you made sure that you had everything beforehand. Almost all towns have a tire shop that can fix/replace your tire and since you’ve made sure that you had that spare, you can drive your vehicle to the closest town, get your tire repaired, and be on your way within a few hours.

2. Fluids – Carry Extras

Check the levels of all fluids: oil, brake, transmission, power steering, and even your windshield washer fluid. You never know which ones are low – this past trip I was low on power steering fluid so it was a good thing that I checked. If you know that your car goes through fluids (leaks oil, burns through power steering) make sure to carry extra. Then if you are in the middle of nowhere with fluid alarms going off, or your car is overheating, you can top them up.

3.Start the Car & Listen – Even When You’re ON Your Trip

Dad will start the car and give it a listen. Even if you haven’t been working on cars for years like he has, you can tell when something doesn’t sound right. Squeals, bangs, ticks and clicks, you can tell when there is something not quite right, as you are used to how your car sounds when you run it. Speaking of listening, have you listened to your brakes lately? Try them out and make sure they aren’t squeaking or squealing. If you are in the middle of a road trip, don’t try to make it home with new sounds: get it checked out at a local shop or you might find yourself stuck in the middle of the road calling your…

4.Roadside Assistance – A Great Back-up Plan

If you are a serious road tripper, then you might want to consider signing up for your vehicle’s roadside assistance program or a privately owned one. Roadside assistance takes the stress out of roadside problems, whether it’s when you run out of gas or breakdown completely. Having a backup plan can give you the peace of mind

5. Let the Pros Handle It

An example of what I mean by this is when your car decides to steam/smoke under the hood. I personally am not equipped to deal with an engine fire (and opening the hood actually feeds an engine fire with more oxygen) or deal with the fact that a steaming engine could result in steam burns if I opened it myself. Call the pros and let them handle it, whether it’s 911 if it’s actually an engine fire or a tow truck/roadside assistance if it’s steam.

Safe travels everyone! I hope that you are all having a fun summertime full of fabulous travel!




DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Esurance. All opinions and language are my own.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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