Is your car ready to hit the road? Here’s what you should know.
Summer is here, and that means day trips and visits, and long, winding drives to nowhere in particular. Just because you can. Just because the sun is out and you want to soak up everything that summer has to offer. It’s a great time to be a driver. Even greater if you can turn the top down on your Beetle Convertible. But, just like winter driving, summer driving comes with its own set of challenges. For one, summer roads are just busier—with cars, people and other kinds of vehicles that weren’t there a few months ago.
Make room for everyone. Share the road.
With the warmer weather comes ‘Summer Construction Season’ in addition to cyclists, motorcyclists and plenty more pedestrians. And while they might share your space, they don’t share the protection of a curtain of airbags and crumple zones. If possible, leave three or four seconds’ distance between you and a lighter vehicle and use your signals to give everyone around you plenty of warning. (Even if they don’t return the favour.) Technology has given us many gifts over the years, but lately it’s also given us an epidemic of distracted walking. Don’t assume that pedestrians can see you or that they will act predictably. With eyes fixed on their phones, there’s a chance they might wander into places they probably shouldn’t be. So, if you haven’t begun already, hone your ninja-like reflexes for the summer roads.
Regular summer maintenance just makes sense
Well, not just the body, but the engine and tires, too. Kick off the summer season with a proper service. If you’re going to spend more time on the road, you want to catch things before they have a chance to become a problem. Plus, regular preventative maintenance is just a good idea and the changing seasons are a good reminder. When you book a maintenance appointment, your Volkswagen Certified Technician will help make sure your summer is uneventful from a repair standpoint. To help, we’ve put together a handy Summer Safety Checklist you can consult to help make the task easier. Really, just a few minutes at the start of the season can make a huge difference in the long run.
Pack right for summer road travel
As you head out to the beach or cottage, to that friend’s place or on a summer adventure, it’s understandable that you might want to take a few things with you
Summer travellers tend to pack heavy. But, be sure you can see out of your windows, and that your mirrors have a clear view of the world around you. Many drivers are tempted to sacrifice their field of view just to squeeze in those few extra camping supplies. But don’t stuff your vehicle to the point where it becomes dangerous to you or to the people around you. And, if you can’t fit it all in safely, consider roof storage or a small trailer.
Don’t run into a hitch while towing
If fishing is in your future—or you just really want to carry a lot of stuff to the cottage—check that your vehicle can handle the boat or the trailer you want to hook up. Your owner’s manual will give you safe towing capacities and plenty of good advice, but make sure your mirrors have full view of what’s going on behind you. A heavy trailer means you accelerate and break more slowly, and you’ll need more time to pass. So, give yourself more room around other vehicles, and keep in mind that rain and other weather conditions might make safe stopping even slower. And, remember, national highways, or any highway for that matter, are a terrible place for a yard sale. It’s never a bad idea to cover your cargo to keep it in place.
Beat the heat by keeping cool
Summer driving often means long-distance driving—and that can mean long periods spent in the driver’s seat, staring at rippling heat mirages. Be sure to give yourself plenty of breaks. Don’t let yourself get too tired or too fatigued.
Take advantage of rest stops to get out and stretch, even if you don’t need to re-caffeinate. It’s a good excuse to check in on your phone so that you’re not tempted to do it on the road.
One critical thing to keep in mind when traveling in the summer is the potential for heat stroke—especially when it comes to kids. A child’s body temperature can heat up three- to five-times faster than an adult’s. If you’re feeling it then the kids are, too. When the outside temperature climbs to 25°C, temperatures in an uncooled car can become extremely dangerous in as little as 10 minutes. Be sure to bring kids and pets with you when you step out.
Looking for a little road trip inspiration? Check out some of our favourite Canadian drives.
This article originally appeared in print in Volkswagen Magazine and has been edited and formatted for the web.