Pack your car with safety and convenience
Anyone who has ever packed a car for a road trip knows that loading properly lies somewhere between science and art. As the last item is loaded, you can judge your packing success by how accessible items are as the kids ask them
Loading your car safely doesn’t mean stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into the trunk and hoping for the best. Proper loading requires careful planning and a lot of common sense.
Consider the following:
Can your vehicle handle the load
This is very important to consider, especially when pulling a trailer. If you’re not sure how much your vehicle can handle, ask your automotive technician for advice. Overloading can affect your car’s handling, stability and could damage your suspension.
Preparing your vehicle for the road ahead
- A tune-up is in order, especially for long excursions. The last thing you want on vacation is a breakdown that could have been prevented by simple maintenance
- Make sure your brakes are in good working order. Having that extra load in your trunk or with a trailer, will demand more from your brake system
- Make sure your headlights are property adjusted. Loading your trunk can cause the front end of your vehicle to raise slightly. You don’t want to blind oncoming drivers.
- First and foremost, plan your packing! You don’t want the kids’ toys and travel games underneath the luggage. Ensure that items you will need along the way are easily accessible (this includes the spare tire, jack and first aid kit)!
- If you own a vehicle like a station wagon or mini-van, with an open cargo area, make sure none of the items packed could become dangerous projectiles in the event of an abrupt stop.
- Visibility is essential – don’t overfill and limit the driver’s ability to see out of the windows.
A checklist is extremely valuable before you hit the road. Here are a few items you may want to add to your own personal list
- Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated
- Extra litre of oil
- Spare anti-freeze mixture
- First-aid kit
- Emergency road kit
- Maps and AMA Triptiks
- Your AMA membership card
If you have a lot of stuff to pack, a small travel trailer might be a good idea
- Consider using a car-top carrier. But remember that loading up top will alter your vehicle’s handling. Be careful around bends in the road and when taking sharper turns. Make sure that you follow the manufacturers instructions. Securely fasten all latches and knobs when transporting. Pack roof top boxes with the concentration of the weight in the middle. Periodically remove the carrier for cleaning, lubrication and inspection.
- When transporting anything on top of your vehicle, always be aware of overhead clearance. Make sure all mounting points are securely fastened.
- If the 2-door hatchback you own just isn’t going to handle the family, the dog and all the luggage, consider renting a larger vehicle for your trip. It could take a great deal of unnecessary frustration out of your vacation. Contact your local AMA club for great car rental rates.