Summer is here and America’s open roads invite you for adventure and a refresher course on the true meaning of freewheeling freedom. You’ve got your travel itinerary, your course is mapped, supplies are loaded and the whole gang is up for the trip. You might even be packing a payload behind your vehicle or on the roof. This is where you must be extra careful not to turn the fun of “I Spy with My Little Eye” into a highway disaster, where drivers are spotting your goods strewn yard sale-style across multiple lanes, or worse.
Trailer hitches, roof racks and cargo carriers all come in handy when your vacation involves hauling lots of gear on the highway. So take a look at the top tips for these accessories and make sure whatever you’re carrying is safely strapped down, locked up and shut tight. Fun extends as far as the eye can see—through your windshield and in the rear view mirror—but driver safety is always your number one focus.
Here are safety tips for three top auto accessories this summer:
1. Right Hitch? No Glitch.
You can pick up a trailer hitch for nearly any make and model vehicle and safely tow a trailer. However, the feature that matters most is its weight rating. It’s classified in five different categories and based on the amount of weight each category can support:
- Classes 1 and 2 are designed for lighter loads no greater than 3,500 lbs
- Classes 3, 4 and 5 can accommodate loads up to 10,000 lbs
Plus, installing a trailer hitch is easier than you think. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of space to work in, that you’re mounting the hitch to your vehicle’s chassis, that your ride is in park with the parking brake engaged and that your wheels are blocked to prevent any rolling. And double check that all electrical connections for any brake lights and turn signals are in place and that they work before you put the car back in drive.
2. Up on the Roof Rack
When your interior and trunk/cargo space all come at a premium—and your vehicle’s already packed to the gills—stow your gear up top. Just do it safely with a quality base rack system. Also known as roof racks, they’re ideal for stowing all kinds of cargo on top of your vehicle, ensuring you’ve got safe spots to strap down your goods and not dent up your roof in the process. Follow the installation instructions carefully and get on the go with your gear on lockdown.
3. Carry Extra Cargo Like a Pro
Even the most beastly SUVs get tight inside when kids, luggage and coolers start cramping up space. So, where should you fit the rest of your camping gear? In a cargo carrier, of course! From steel baskets to ABS boxes and even nylon reinforced bags, rooftop cargo carriers are a must when everyone could use extra leg room. Just make sure your cargo carrier is secured on a base rack system and that it’s latched so that brand new fishing pole doesn’t end up a hood ornament in the grill of the poor driver behind you.
Summer road trips get you back in touch with what’s important in life. So get out there for a long haul, enjoy America’s roads and vibrant landscapes and keep your possessions where they belong—with you!