For many, summer vacation involves driving. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your journey as safe as possible.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Both under-and-over inflated tires can cause you trouble so use the tire gauge to ensure that your tires are at the proper pressure. Check your tire pressure before you start driving. The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle should be listed in the driver’s side door, on the glove box door, or in the owner’s manual. Don’t confuse the recommended pressure with the maximum pressure that is stamped on the tire itself.
- Don’t skimp on service! Regular oil changes are even more important in the heat of summer when your engine needs even more lubrication. If your summer routine involves pulling a boat or other equipment, ask your mechanic if you should switch to a more viscous oil.
- Just as you are taking precautions to keep yourself hydrated, make sure your automobile’s fluids (coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid) are at proper levels.
- If your vacation takes you to the mountains, consider downshifting instead of riding your brakes down a hill.
- Keep an eye on your temperature gauge. If you start to overheat, try turning the heat on in your car. This should bring the temperature down a bit. If you have to stop to cool the engine down, remember that you should wait a bit before opening the hood.
- Check out your wipers and replace if needed. Sun and heat can cause your windshield wipers to wear faster.
- Check out the air conditioner. Not only will you get uncomfortable if the air conditioning goes out, but may also lose other important engine systems.
- If you are taking a long drive or heading to a sparsely populated area, consider packing a gallon of water, extra coolant and oil. These items may come in handy during your travels.
- Remember that there are areas were the GPS doesn’t get a signal. Buy an atlas or print your Google map as a backup.
- For driver safety, be sure to take routine breaks. I know someone who drove so long that when he got out of the car, his legs locked up and he fell hard in parking lot. He always thought I was a wimp for taking breaks to stop and stretch my legs but that changed after he bloodied his knees. Be kind to your body and plan to stop about every two-hours or 100 miles.
- Don’t drive when you are sleepy. Drowsy driving can cause accidents. Pull over at a rest area to take a cat nap or treat yourself to a night in a hotel. Check for coupon books at interstate rest stops to bring the cost down.