Let the summer road trips (and pandemonium) begin!
Rental car shortages and stolen airbags, can you get away?
After more than a year of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, the United States is fully opening up and domestic travel will be less of a hassle. Many Americans are still opting for road trips this year as opposed to flying, perhaps since there have been some startling incidents on our airlines lately. Oh, but that's just the beginning of the reopening madness. It's no wonder we all need to get away. But can we?
Lack of rental cars and stolen airbags are causing nationwide conflict
Rental car prices are soaring due to supply and demand issues - more people want to rent cars and the agencies can't keep up. The fleets can't be restocked with new whips fast enough due to a shortage of semiconductor chips, which are vital to a car's computer control system.
A shortage of airbags in manufacturing has caused an entire black market for the things (not to say it hasn't happened before). The Chevrolet Equinox and Malibu are being targeted and the entire steering wheel is being taken. What a world! If you fall victim, don't expect your dealer or repair shop to have another lying around because they're looking for them too. It could take a month or more to get it replaced. Then what? Rent a car? Oops.
Time to get away
Our family vehicle is still in one piece, so we've booked a week trip to Erie, Pennsylvania. It's an easy two+ hour drive straight up Interstate 79 North out of Pittsburgh, just under 130 miles. It's not a doozy of a road trip, but it's still a much needed getaway.
I-79 runs from Charleston, West Virginia and ends in Erie - for a total distance of 344 miles. It's been around since the late 1950s and was extended numerous times over the decades. It connects to Interstate 90, which goes to Buffalo, NY and on towards the Canadian border.
Photo by formulanone on Flickr
The town of Erie sits on Lake Erie and it's a quaint, cheap getaway. I'm not a beach person, but they have cute coffee shops and bookstores, and sunsets on the lake are stellar. In 2020, my mom and I were ready to go to London, but of course that never happened. Oddly enough, Erie will have to do until then because if I don't get out of Pittsburgh I swear...🙃
Anyway, I'm the driver and will be behind the wheel of our 2015 Chevy Trax. The furthest I've driven it was to far eastern Pennsylvania - 300 miles. It was six hours of driving that I never want to do again unless I'm moving to New York City, or I'm a passenger in a Bentley.
The fateful day we bought it... *hissss*
This might be our Trax's last road trip. My family is in the market for a new car because we all collectively dislike the Trax. I'm not kidding - it's bad. It's cute, but it's bad. Those big headlights are the puppy dog eyes of the road, since so many are thinning out, and that's pretty much all I like about it. Oh, and the red exterior is attractive (should I do a whole review?)
There are rumors that Chevy might end the Trax, because I suppose the Trailblazer is selling well. If that's true, I will throw a party. I will advocate that everyone who has a Trax should get free chiropractic therapy for life and a car with marshmallows for the suspension. The Trax is the hardest ride of any vehicle I've been in, but that's why it handles quite effortlessly. It was made for zippy city driving, not road trips.
I really like the Toyota Camry XLE (but haven't tested it yet) because it seems great for road trips and has much softer suspension. I am desperately trying to convince the fam that we don't need an SUV. I may do a separate article on this and ask for everyone's advice.
This has gotten off track (aha... track... cars...sorry, I'm a bit tired). No matter where you're heading this summer, drive safe!