Security and Safety

Winter Road Trip Checklist

By Kristy Alpert 10.1.17

Icy roads and dicey driving conditions don’t paint a pretty picture for the perfect road trip across the Lone Star State. However, with holidays and vacations calling, the lure of the open road will bring drivers out anyway. Here’s a checklist to keep you safe on the road.

“Charting your course, planning ahead, and allowing extra time to reach your destination are great ways to avoid unforeseen delays and stress,” says David Glessner, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in Austin.

Get a Lay of the Land

  • Watch the weather forecasts. You can also download weather apps for the most up-to-date information.
  • Look for road closures due to weather or other unforeseen events to determine your best and safest route.
  • Check out TxDOT’s road conditions hotline (800.452.9292) and road condition information online.
  • Figure out the best time to depart to avoid holiday and event traffic.
  • Sign up for roadside assistance.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Make a winter road trip emergency kit in case anything goes wrong. It should include:

  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothes
  • Rain jacket
  • Ice scraper
  • Flares
  • Set of matches
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Tow chains
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Snacks
  • Water (approximately 64 ounces per person)
  • Batteries
  • Spare tire; ensure it’s properly inflated
  • Tire jack; ensure it’s in good working order
  • Basic tool kit
  • Collapsible shovel

Pack Your Vehicle Securely

  • Make sure items do not obstruct your field of vision through windows or mirrors.
  • Secure heavy items in the cabin area of the vehicle or in the trunk at the lowest possible positioning. These items can become dangerous in a crash, possibly causing serious injury to the occupants of the vehicle if they are dislodged.

Do This 10-Step Pre-Check

The last step before starting your winter road trip is to perform one final check of your vehicle. This will ensure you’re starting off the trip with a charged battery, properly inflated tires, functioning windshield wipers, and a tank full of gas.

  • Inspect the battery for holes, cracks, and corrosion, making sure the cables and terminals are clean and secured.
  • Inflate the spare a few PSI above the recommended level. 
  • Pack for changing a tire, including your jack, air compressor, lug and torque wrenches.
  • Tighten lug nuts to the level indicated in your owner’s manual.
  • Check the drive belt for any cuts, cracks, or damage and replace it immediately if you find anything. If the belt breaks or comes off, you could lose the alternator, power steering, air conditioner, and more.
  • Replace cabin air filters every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, as they can become corroded and clogged by soot, debris, pollen, and smog.
  • Flush the cooling system and replace corrosive fluid with fresh, clean fluid to restore the effectiveness of the system.
  • Inspect the tires for pressure but also bulges and unusual wear, two signs that the car’s alignment may be off.
  • Check tread depth to ensure it’s over the minimum 2/32-inch mark. You can also use the penny test: Place a penny headfirst into the tire tread; if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
  • Replace spark plugs if your car has more than 100,000 miles. This quick fix will also help you save on gas mileage.

Phone a Friend

Notify a friend, neighbor, or family member of the route you’ll be taking to your destination so that, in the case of an emergency (e.g., a breakdown, blown tire, accident, etc.), someone with knowledge of the trip will be able to alert the appropriate responders to your location. But remember, in an emergency, always dial 911 first.

Check Your Coverage

Fuel your adventure with the right coverage from Texas Farm Bureau Insurance. Call your Agent to review your auto policy and make sure you’re protected on the road. This will ensure that the only tough decision you’ll have to make on the road is where you want to end up.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance