Published on Friday, 24 June 2011
Many families and individuals are planning road trips this summer. Some of those trips will involve hundreds of kilometers (or more) of driving in a variety of weather conditions.
Unfortunately, not all road trips will go according to plan. Every summer, vehicles require emergency repairs far from home, leaving motorists inconvenienced, out of pocket and stranded.
To avoid unnecessary breakdowns and to ensure safe motoring, anyone planning a road trip (at any time of year) should have their vehicle inspected at least a week before leaving.
I don't mean asking a friend to look under the hood for oil leaks or a frayed fan belt.
Rather, take the vehicle to a franchised new car dealer (or a certified mechanic) to have it inspected properly.
A pre-trip inspection is reasonably priced at $55 - $100 and all dealerships provide this service.
A standard pre-trip inspection includes checking for excessive wear and tear on tires, brake systems, cooling systems and other moving parts.
If you have concerns about a specific mechanical or safety issue, discuss this with your service advisor. It's better to fix a potential problem before you embark on a trip than to have to deal with it while on vacation.
Fixing a problem before a trip may be inconvenient and costly, but ignoring it could jeopardize your safety, invalidate your warranty and result in costly repairs.
Automobiles can break down anytime, anywhere, even though they may have been properly inspected. When a breakdown occurs miles from home, new car dealerships across North America will honour any warranty claims, although some U.S. states require drivers to pay directly for warranty-related items (for which customers will be reimbursed).
Locating an out-of-town dealership that specializes in your make and model is not difficult. Today's GPS systems and smartphones make searching for repair facilities quick and easy.
Anyone planning a road trip may also wonder about insurance coverage, especially when driving in other provinces or countries.
For the most part, privately-owned vehicles insured in Canada are covered across the country and in the U.S., but not all insurance policies may be applicable in all States. I suggest contacting your insurance broker to determine the extent of your coverage, based on your itinerary.
States and provinces have different liability limits, which should be researched thoroughly before you travel. For instance, some provinces and States have higher bodily injury liability limits than Ontario. So, if you were to be involved in an accident in a different province or State, you might have to pay the difference.
If you plan on driving to Mexico, Canadian insurance coverage is not valid in that country.
All motorists are obliged to purchase independent coverage from a Mexican insurance company. Motorists should research this carefully!
Planning to rent a vehicle for your road trip? Most major car rental companies in Canada allow vehicles to be driven to other provinces and to the United States. As far as insurance coverage goes, again check with your insurance provider so that you understand your risks and responsibilities.
In addition to a vehicle inspection, motorists can take further steps to ensure that their vehicles perform more efficiently. These include avoiding aggressive driving, avoiding excessive idling and observing the speed limit.
A great resource for travelers (and motorists) in Ontario is Renewit ( www.renewitnow.com), a consumer support service and communication hub, where motorists can communicate directly with their new car dealership from any location.
With a little planning and research, road trips can provide a fun, memorable and stress-free adventure for the entire family.
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