Tips to safely load your car for a road trip

Safe Driving starts before you leave the driveway

If you are among the many planning to hit the road for a family vacation this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind before you head out.

Not all SUVs and minivans are created equal

Whether you have an SUV, a minivan or a car, it doesn’t mean that it can be loaded to the roof. Load capacity, (the maximum amount of passenger and cargo weight that a vehicle is designed to handle), varies from vehicle to vehicle.

How Load capacity is calculated is by subtracting the empty weight of the vehicle (curb weight) from the maximum permissible weight the vehicle can carry (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). Don’t forget, load capacity includes passengers as well as cargo.

Pack the Heaviest Items up Front

Make sure to load heavier items such as suitcases first and put them as far forward in the cargo area as possible, especially in SUVs. A significant heavy load at the back shifts weight off of the front wheels, which can have an impact on steering and braking. Keeping the overall center of gravity lower by packing the heavy items on the floor, reduces the likelihood of a rollover.

Secure Loose Items

Make sure loose items are packed into boxes and larger items are strapped down using the car’s cargo anchors. A sudden stop or accident could send things flying and possibly striking and injuring passengers.

Rear visibility

Make sure that you don’t pack things too high in the car as it could obstruct the driver’s view. Not being able to see out of the back window or rear view mirror can create considerable risk when backing up.

Tire maintenance and pressure

Inspect your tires before preparing for a road trip. Be sure the tires are properly inflated; the recommended inflation pressure can usually be found on the driver’s side door or in the owner’s manual. Make sure there are no sidewall bulges and there is no indication of tread damage or extreme wear.

Rooftop Cargo

When attaching anything to the rooftop, make sure all cargo is properly secured. The wind created while driving could exceed over 70 mph. If things aren’t fully secured you could not only lose your items you could cause an accident. Be cautious of the height of your cargo also so you don’t unintentionally drive into a low underpass.

Detachable Cargo Platforms & Trailers

If you are attaching a cargo platform to the back of your car, remember it’s there when you are backing up.
If towing a trailer, make sure everything is in good working order, lights, wheels, tires, etc. Make sure to secure the safety chains properly and check the trailer at times during your road trip.

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