Travel Tip: Be Prepared to Do Roadside Repairs

If you do any sort of traveling, you’re going to eventually run into some sort of issue on the road. Whether it be a flat tire or a burnt out headlight, you’ll find there are issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. While I’m not saying you need to be able to rebuild a transmission on the side of the interstate, you should be prepared and able to do minor roadside repairs.

The first step is having the right tools. For a flat tire, your car should have everything you need between the spare tire, jack, and tire wrench. You will want to make sure all of this is in working order. I have had it in the past where some condensation has got in the area that holds the spare tire the the wrench has rusted to the point it was unusable. You will want to make sure everything is in good condition, because the last thing you want is these tools to fail on a rainy or snowy interstate with cars whizzing past you at 75mph.

Additionally, you want want to make sure you know how to put on the spare tire. Each car is different and should have its own instructions. Make sure to read them prior to going out so you know exactly what to do when the time comes. Just like not having the equipment in working order, the last thing you want is a trial by fire learning how to change a spare tire in less than optimal conditions.

You should also have an emergency kit that has at the very minimum a pair of jumper cables and a tow rope. You never know when you are going to have a dead battery and need a jump or you end up stuck somewhere. You can get emergency kits almost anywhere for relatively cheap. The one I got was from Walmart and it includes a lot more things like a hazard triangle, first aid kit, and air compressor.

In addition to what I named above, you should have a good set of tools that you could pretty much take on any roadside repair. You also do not want to go on the cheap with these for the same reason you need to make sure your jack and tire wrench are in good working order. You don’t want it to fail you when you need it the most. I highly recommend getting a brand like Craftsman. I personally have a 200 piece tool set from them.

You may think that all these tools take up a lot of space. In reality, the spare tire and those tools are under the trunk and I can tuck my toolset and emergency kit in the corner of my trunk. It really doesn’t take up that much room.

The only other real major thing I highly recommend knowing how to do besides changing a flat tire is changing light bulbs. If you are driving any sort of distance you will eventually be hassled and pulled over for a burnt out light. In addition, it’s dangerous to drive around with burnt out lights and they should be replaced as soon as possible. I’ve changed out lights in auto parts store parking lots before and it should be something you should learn to do too.

Besides knowing how to change a flat tire and burnt out lights, the rest is up to you. You should really know your limits and know when it is best to call a shop. I mean I have been able to do a lot of parking lot repairs such as fixing my AC, adjusting the e-brake, and even replacing a passenger side mirror, but when say the alternator goes out you will need to know when it just makes sense for the shop to do the work to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

You might be limited to just changing a spare tire, but if you recognize this and acknowledge it, you can then act on it appropriately and get a shop involved. Sometimes you do have the ability to work on something yourself, but without tools such as a lift, having access to the right parts, or if the weather conditions just aren’t favorable to doing the work, it might be best to call a shop. Once you have made this determination, if you can safely limp the car to a shop do so. If you can’t make sure the car is safely off the road and call a tow truck.

It’s inevitable you will run into issues with your car on the road. Being prepared to deal with them and also knowing the limits of what you can deal with is essential to getting safely back on the road as soon as possible.

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