The Heat Is Rising: Make Sure Your Car Is Running

You’ve worked hard all year and summer vacation is right around the corner. You deserve some rest and relaxation, but nothing can ruin a vacation like being stranded on the side of the road miles from your destination.

As you prepare to get away this summer, follow these helpful tips that can help make your vacation as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

* Get a complete vehicle inspection. Your vehicle manufacturer recommends services and inspections at regularly scheduled intervals to keep your vehicle running. A complete vehicle inspection, including the air-conditioning system, may help drivers avoid costly repairs as well as keep cool on hot summer days. A technician can help ensure a vehicle’s engine, battery, exhaust system and cooling system are all in good working order.

* Check tire pressure monthly and before long trips. Properly inflate all four tires, plus the spare, to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended levels. Tires can lose up to 1 pound per square inch per month under normal conditions. Use an accurate tire gauge to check tire air pressure monthly and always when the car is cool -; meaning the car has been driven less than 1 mile or has not moved in at least three hours.

* Check tire tread. Tires should have at least 1/16 inch of tread depth. To perform the “penny test,” insert a penny in the tread at several points on the tire, with President Lincoln’s head pointed down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head at any of the points, the tire is worn out and requires replacement. Remember, this test is only appropriate for tires on passenger vehicles.

* Check fluids. Fluid levels should be checked and filled if necessary, including engine oil and coolant, brake, transmission, windshield washer and power steering fluids. And don’t forget to check the gas.

* Do not overload the vehicle. Just as lighter loads increase fuel efficiency, overloading creates excessive heat inside your tires, robbing you of fuel economy. Overloading your vehicle can also cause excessive or irregular wear or early removal of tires if tires are not properly inflated or in good condition.

* Pack an emergency kit. Emergency kits will prepare drivers for unexpected breakdowns. Suggested items for a vehicle emergency kit include: jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, a reflector, protective gloves, a basic toolkit, flares and matches, a gallon of water, nonperishable food, a 12-volt portable air compressor and a blanket. An auto club membership may also be helpful. Also, make sure your cell phone is charged.