Summer Roadtrips

By Patrick Rocca | July 19, 2016


As the temperature continues to rise, so does the number of us fleeing the hot concrete city in search of country comfort. Luckily, we’re spoiled with many getaway options around the Toronto and GTA area that can satisfy our thirst for cooler ground free from traffic sounds, responsibilities and, if we’re extra lucky, e-mails. We know you’re not alone in your desire to ride off this weekend, but before you coast off, make sure your weekend doesn’t end with police, lawyers or frustration.

Consider the following checklist before your next summer adventure:

Plan your route

The first thing you need to know about your trip is how you’re getting there. That means, planning your route properly so there’s no unwanted surprises (i.e. dead ends, unpaved roads) along the way. If you haven’t yet, consider using a GPS that can dictate driving instructions to you to avoid any chance of distracted driving.

There are some amazing road trip apps out now that do it all: multiple route options, real-time traffic updates, speed traps notifications and gas price comparisons. While you’re at it, download the Pace mobile app for proactive protection, too. In case of an accident or emergency, you’ll be able to cover every step through our app, from taking photos and videos of the scene to finding your nearest police station or automobile shop.

Service your car

Before you trek off into the wide blue yonder, you have to check your vehicle’s vitals. Nothing will ruin your weekend faster than car trouble. These are some of the main symptoms you should watch out for and have checked by a professional before leaving the city:

  • If you’re getting close to your vehicle’s next oil change, get it changed before leaving.
  • If your vehicle’s shifting is rough, check the transmission and its fluid.
  • Check the air level in your tires.
  • If your belts are slipping, have tears or make a whiney tune, have them replaced.

Other small check-ups to consider are wiper blade conditions (for rainy drives), your lights, fluid levels and even your A/C system. This site has a great checklist for you to consider when verifying your vehicle’s safety status.

Understand your spare tire

There’s no need to be embarrassed if you’re not in the know about how to use your spare tire, how long it lasts, or even where it is. Since the spare is used so infrequently, car manufacturers have switched to narrow, compact spares to save space and weight, but that extra wheel is a lifesaver when regular tires go pop. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Your spare tire‘s traction and ABS is not as effective as your regular tires, so be extra careful.
  • Manufacturers suggest keeping speeds below 50 mph and using your spare only for limited distance
  • Your car’s owner manual will provide deeper information regarding your spare tire.
  • Visit this site to learn the simple steps you’ll need to change your spare tire.

 Prepare an emergency travel kit

An emergency travel kit for your car is one of those things you don’t think about until it’s too late. The ugly truth is that vehicle breakdowns can happen and having a roadside emergency kit can reduce the hassle. Here are the must-have items for your car emergency kit:

  • A cell phone charger: to charge your phone and be able to make emergency calls if needed.
  • First-aid kit: include an assortment of Band-Aids, gauze, aspirin, antiseptic wipes and anything else particular to your family’s needs.
  • Mini fire extinguisher: Make sure you check its rating.
  • Three reflective warning triangles: Placing 3 triangles 50 feet apart can effectively warn oncoming traffic.
  • Tire gauge: Use the tire gauge in your kit to periodically check the air pressure in your spare.
  • Foam tire sealant: This is a quick and inexpensive way to repair many flats without changing your tire.
  • Jumper cables: They should be at least 10 feet in length with at least 8-gauge rubber.
  • Flashlight with batteries: Make sure the flashlight is waterproof.

These are the basics you’ll want to know to be protected on your next weekend adventure drive. Stock up on water and non-perishable snacks and you’re good to go.

 Check your insurance

This last point is truly the most important, so if you’ve read this far then you’re in luck. As of June 1, legislative changes to the car insurance industry drastically changed your coverage. The majority of people don’t even know how their insurance is affected and you may be one of them.

One of the major changes that occurred? Non-catastrophic injury policy (for medical and rehab plus any attendant care) has dropped by a whopping $21,000 in available coverage. Odds are, you aren’t aware of all the changes and how they’ve affected you and your family.

What to do? Simply call your insurance company and talk to them about it. Often, an easy top-up for your insurance similar to the cost of a few cups of coffee a week is all you need to be comfortably protected.

No matter where your next weekend drive is taking you, from Muskokas to Blue Mountain, the right preparation and the best protection will have you covered.