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Summer Driver Tips to Consider When Going on Vacation

Sep 11, 2008
Summer has arrived; you've been waiting all year for this one precious week - your week of vacation. Despite that fact that it's against your better judgment, you are going to load up your family and too many bags of luggage into your car and begin the all too long journey to your vacation destination.

Before you put your poor, overloaded car through the long trek though, there are some things that you should look for. Things that will save you a lot of time wasted and a lot of headaches if you get them taken care of before you depart, rather than while you are in the middle of your trip.

First things first - check your tires. Even if you aren't a weekend mechanic or regular "car guy" you should be able to spot noticeable damage to your car's tires. If they are bald of tread, unevenly worn or if you can feel lumps as you pass your hand along your tires, this are all sure signs of them needing to be replaced. This isn't a time to think, "They'll probably be okay," if they look and feel bad get them replaced. If you've gotten tires recently you should at the very least check the air pressure before hitting the road, because driving on a tire that has the improper air pressure can lead to a host of potential problems with said tire.

One of the last things that you'll need on your fantastic voyage is a blown tire on a busy highway, so if you simply aren't sure and can't figure out whether you need new tires, than take a quick ride over to your trusty mechanic.

Check all your fluid levels, check all your belts and hoses and make sure that your air conditioning system is working properly.

It's Summer, it's hot outside, so while you are on the road and the sun is blazing you'll want to be able to operate your AC with the assurance that cold air will be coming out of the vents.

When you eye up your cars belts and hoses you are looking for any obvious cracks or areas of discoloration or dry rotting - a broken belt or ruptured hose can be a sure fire way to ruin the start of your vacation.

As far as the fluid levels go - you want to be full on everything, even if it seems like something insignificant - trust me, when your are tooling down the highway at seventy-five miles an hour, that wind shield washer fluid is going to come in mighty handy getting those smashed bugs out of your line of sight.

Any questions that you aren't sure of - if you can't figure out if something looks bad enough to need replacing or if you can't remember when the last time you had your oil changed I've got two words for you - tune up.

Once you get out on the long and lonesome road, the best thing that you can do for yourself) not to mention your family and car) is to pay attention.

Keep your eyes on the road - there are a lot more people traveling a lot farther distances than they may be accustomed to. This means that there could be a lot more chances for accidents because of an overload of frustrated drivers trying to do anything in their power, including ignoring common sense, to get to their final destination.

Keep your eyes (and ears) on your car. Watch your gauges, all of them; the gas, the speedometer and the temperature. You need to run out of gas on a long stretch of road with no rest stop even less than you need to blow a tire - at least you can replace a tire where you're at, somebody's going to have to walk to get that gas and I'm guessing that neither your wife or your kids are going to volunteer. Make sure your roadside assistance membership auto club is handy in case you are left in the middle of the road.

Your speedometer is another thing you don't want to overlook. State highways equal state troopers, who are usually a lot less forgiving than your local neighborhood cop. The fines on a state highway can be very steep, not to mention that you are putting yourself at a greater risk of being involved in an accident if you're not obeying the laws of the road.

Your temperature gauge may very well be the most overlooked gauge of all. If your car is running hot, you better slow down - and if that doesn't do the trick pull over into a rest stop and give it a break, no matter how inconvenient it may seem at the time. It may not seem like too big of a deal, but driving a car while it's overheated can do very serious damage to your engine.

Getting your car a checkup before you hit the road and watching it closely once you're out there are the best ways to ensure a seamless trip to and from your destination, that way you'll be able to relax and enjoy the time you have while you're there.
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