Subaru’s Advice on Loading Your Car for Summer Road Trips

July 14, 2011

If the call of the open road is becoming a siren song in your brain, heading out on a summer road trip should get you to thinking: What’s the best way to load the vehicle?

In case it doesn’t, however, Subaru has a few tips that might come in handy.

While Subaru published the information in their newsletter to Subaru owners, you don’t need to drive a Subaru to take advantage of them. So, whether you drive a sedan, hatchback, crossover, SUV, minivan or pickup truck, all of the following is good advice.

Know your vehicle’s weight limit – and stick to it. Many drivers don’t think much about the maximum weight limit for their vehicle. But when it comes to packing the family car for a summer road trip, now’s the time to figure it out. Look on the driver’s door pillar or refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). That figure is the total weight of the vehicle AND everything in it – passengers, cargo, pets, etc. It also applies to anything carried on the vehicle, such as suitcases or bikes in rooftop cargo areas or carriers affixed to the rear. Don’t go over the posted GVWR. If you do, it can affect the vehicle’s handling, braking and overall performance.

Not too much on top! Speaking of cargo you carry on the top of the vehicle – for those vehicles equipped with a roof rack – be sure not to exceed the maximum weight limit for the rack. You can find maximum weight limits for your vehicle’s roof rack system by checking your owner’s manual. An overweight roof rack could make your vehicle top-heavy as all that weight changes the center of gravity. Too much on top can also affect performance.

Balance out the load. Be sure to distribute cargo evenly throughout the vehicle. Don’t put everything in the back or too much on one side. Maintaining balance with the load will result in better steering and handling during your trip.

Check tire pressure in all tires. All tires should be checked to ensure they’re at the recommended pounds per square inch (psi). This is clearly spelled out in the owner’s manual and is also posted on the driver’s door jamb.

Make sure you can see clearly out the back. Even if your vehicle has a rear-view camera, you need to be able to see clearly out the back window. Make sure your line of sight is unobstructed by removing and redistributing any cargo that’s in the way.

Lastly, once you’ve completed all the pre-trip loading and are ready to get underway, make sure you and all your passengers are buckled up. Drive safely and enjoy your summer road trip.


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