Follow these seven steps to perform a vehicle safety check that will help stop a minor breakdown from becoming a major headache.
- First-aid kit. Confirm that there’s one in the vehicle and that it’s stocked with the basic emergency supplies.
- Emergency roadside/accident kit. Useful in the event of an accident or breakdown, a good kit should include jumper cables, flares, reflective roadside triangles/markers, hand tools, tape, a tire inflator and a flashlight.
- Spare tire. Know where your tire is, how to access and remove it, and how to check its air pressure. Also, know the location of the jack and how to use it. (Instructions can often be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.)
- Food and water. Always keep water and snacks available, particularly if you’re traveling with children.
- External cell phone charger and cord. If you vehicle experiences a battery failure or other electrical problem, you might not be able to charge your cell phone. Carry a small, external battery pack and charging cord that fit the phone.
- Emergency contacts. Research and save important phone numbers in your cell phone before traveling, including those for AAA and the roadside assistance offered by many vehicle manufacturers.
- Test your vehicle’s security services. If your vehicle is equipped with OnStar or a similar service, test it before traveling. These services can provide directions or let you call for help in the event of an emergency. Some services even offer the option of activating and paying for them for short periods, such as during a two-week vacation.
While today’s vehicles are safer and more reliable than ever, that doesn’t mean that an accident or breakdown can’t happen. Being prepared and checking your vehicle before you travel can help you get back on the road faster when misfortune does strike.