For those planning to travel by car, some important considerations should not be overlooked. Whether your plans include the family car or a rental, here are tips from your Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Oklahoma.
Traveling in the family car
Familiarity can lead to complacency when it comes to travel in your family vehicle. It’s easy to take it for granted and overlook some necessary safety checks. Take a few minutes to look at the following things before setting out on the road:
- Tire tread – Look carefully at the condition of each tire. Watch for any tears or bulges in the sidewalls and ensure that there is plenty of tread left. An easy way to check your tire tread depth is by using a tread depth gauge. You can find tire tread depth gauges at your local auto parts store. There are many models available, but an inexpensive, simple graduated probe gauge will work just fine. All you have to do is stick the probe into a groove in the tread and press the shoulders of the probe flat against the tread block and read the result. All gauges should measure in both 32nds of an inch and millimeters.
- Tire inflation – Improper inflation hurts your gas mileage. Be sure yours are at the recommended pressure for your vehicle. Your car’s manual has this information. (Do not inflate a tire all the way to the maximum pressure that’s printed on the tire’s side.)
- Battery – Check to be sure the terminals are clean and use baking soda with water on them if they aren’t.
- If you have time, get your car checked out by an auto mechanic. You can look up a garage’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org. Have your brake pads checked and have all fluid levels, belts, and hoses examined.
- A vehicle safety kit is a good thing to have. It should contain a flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit and a set of jumper cables. Also, don’t forget an extra set of keys as many travelers accidently lock themselves out of their cars, and then have to scramble to get help.
Renting a car
If you’re one of the many who elect to rent a car for a road trip, here are some tips to save you money and avoid potential headaches:
- Ask about discounts, especially if you’re a senior or a member of an automobile club. Remember that certain dates can be cheaper as well.
- Shop around. Prices vary from company to company. Be sure you’re making an “apples to apples” comparison, where the same options and car sizes are looked at.
- Prices are cheaper at non-airport facilities; airports charge rental companies fees that are passed on to the consumer.
- Purchasing extra insurance isn’t usually needed. Many drivers’ existing insurance policies cover rental damage issues.
- Fees to ask about and watch out for include drop-off fees, mileage caps and refueling fees; late or early return fees, or fees charged in the event of an accident. Fees can be affected by the size of the car. Extra driver fees can be charged as well.
- Prevent unpleasant surprises by asking the agent precisely what the final charge will be.
- Remember that most rental companies place a hold, or a block, on your credit card to protect themselves in the event of additional charges. They won’t process that amount unless you fail to meet the contract requirements. It’s important to consider whether this hold will reduce your credit card spending limit and inconvenience you while on your trip.
- Whether you own or rent the car you drive on your Labor Day road trip, stay safe and take extra care to observe traffic laws. For answers to further questions about car travel issues, contact BBB by calling 918-492-1266 or visit our website at bbb.org/tulsa.