Road trips are making a big comeback in the summer of 2020 (not that they ever went anywhere). With many of the most anticipated summer activities on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are pushing for the "Great American Road Trip" to take their place. Before you start planning your get away, though, it's important to know if your car and your immune system are up to the challenge.

Getting Road Trip Ready

Even though hitting the open road is a great family-friendly activity, it's going to look a little different if you choose to pack up your car and go this year due to COVID-19.

Many popular tourist attractions around the country are remaining shuttered – some for health and safety reasons, others because they simply don't have the funds to reopen or haven't found a cost-effective way to do so safely. This means that planning is a key ingredient of road trips now more than ever.

Just throwing stuff in the back seat and hitting the road to unknown destinations isn't an option in the U.S. anymore. Doing this means you're liable to end up in long lines with crowds of people all trying to do the same out-of-the-way activities as everyone else. Planning your destination isn't the only change to the American road trip, though. The vehicle you're planning on taking can also matter.

You're likely to have an easier time on the road if you're packing up your minivan than touring in a Mazda Miata. Space is a factor in keeping yourself and loved ones safe from the coronavirus, and this means extra space in a car is a must. Opt to take a trip in the biggest vehicle you can manage. Bigger cars mean more space to keep you safe, and more room to pack in plenty of food and water.

Since making frequent stops at rest areas (many of which are still closed) and gas stations are a gamble, packing a cooler is a necessity, as is bringing extra water. It's better to have more resources with you than you need than to have to make a stop in a town you're not familiar with. Plus, as you go through your supplies, you're just making more room which can help ensure a comfier ride home.

Making Sure Your Vehicle Can Handle the Trip

Your health and safety aren't the only things to keep in mind as you go; this summer has been and promises to continue to be a scorcher in many areas around the country, which can take a toll on vehicles that aren't as roadworthy. Here are a few tips to making sure your ride is ready to take on the open road during COVID-19:

  • Keep Yourself and Your Car Safe on Summer Road Trips During CoronavirusClean your car inside and out. Make sure to sanitize your surfaces every chance you get, especially door handles, steering wheel, window and lock buttons, and any part of the shared space that’s frequently touched such as infotainment systems.
  • Check your air filters. Air quality is of greater importance now more than ever, so make sure you have a fresh air filter that's up to the task of helping your vehicle breathe. Don't forget to change your cabin air filter, too (if you have one), to ensure you're breathing the cleanest air you can.
  • Check your fluids. It's never a good idea to embark on a journey before you check the fluids in your car. Oil, windshield wiper fluid, transmission, power steering, and brake fluids should all be checked regularly, especially if you drive an older model vehicle. Regularly scheduled maintenance can be a lifesaver for your car.
  • Make sure your brakes are good. Brakes need to be checked and changed occasionally, too. You can typically tell when your brake pads are wearing thin by the noise your vehicle makes when you're braking. If you hear a squeal each time you step on the brakes, you should address that before hitting the open road.
  • Your safety is riding on your tires. The tread on your tires has a lot to do with car safety. Make sure to have your tires checked, aired up to the proper pressure, and rotated regularly, especially before a long trip.
  • Map your mileage. Gas stations can pose a tricky problem if you're trying to avoid other people on your trip. Knowing how many miles your vehicle gets to a gallon of gas can help you see how far a full tank can take you. Stop as infrequently as possible and always handle pumps with gloves if possible, or use something like a paper towel or a plastic bag between the surface and your hand.

Make Sure You Can Handle the Trip

Now that you know how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape for your summer road trip, don't forget to keep yourself safe, too. Every road tripper knows that having an in-car first aid kit is a must. This year, however, it's a wise move to stock up with some new additions to your standard first aid box.

These materials should make it into your coronavirus road trip kit:

  • Sanitizing wipes – Be sure to select wipes that kill bacteria and viruses. You can't stay safe from COVID-19 if your cleaning products aren't effective. The good news is that good old soap and water can also do the trick, so if premade wipes are hard to find where you are, you can make your own.
  • Disposable gloves – Gloves can help in many ways, but if you're using them as a physical coronavirus barrier, make sure you take them off and dispose of them before returning to your vehicle.
  • Hand sanitizer – Though not as effective as hand washing, it's a must for any trip this summer. Sanitize your hands before and after handling things other people touch, even if they're wearing gloves. Don't keep sanitizer in a place where it could overheat (alcohol vapors are extremely flammable).
  • Portable UV cleaning lamp – These lamps produce UV-C light, which is powerful enough to kill bacteria and viruses, though they come in a wide range for consumer use. Be sure to read up on the proper use and safety of these if you feel like taking this extra safety measure on your road trip. They can be used to disinfect surfaces and drinking water. But it can cause lasting damage to your skin and eyes if used improperly.
  • Soap and water – When in doubt, it's always good to have a way to wash yourself, or your things that can help you stay healthy. Keep an environmentally friendly soap and a gallon of water or two in your car in case of emergencies.

Vehicle Not Roadworthy?

If a summer road trip sounds like exactly what you need to beat your cabin fever right now, but your ride is less than ready to hit the open road, it could be time to consider a new car. If you think that sounds great, you can turn to a subprime lender if you have less than perfect credit.

Even if you're not able to qualify for a brand new car, people with poor credit can often qualify for better vehicles than they think possible as long as they're going through the right type of lender. Subprime lenders look at more than just your credit score, so they can often assist you when you think you're out of options.

If you're ready to get on your way toward a roadworthy car that you can take out and about (safely) this summer, we want to help you get started. At Auto Credit Express, we know a thing or two about getting people into the vehicle they need. That includes finding a dealership that’s signed up with subprime lenders.

Simply fill out our fast and free auto loan request form, and we'll get to work matching you with a dealer in your area. Don't wait until summer is over to get a better car on the road, start now!