Tips to prepare your car for summer travel

July 29, 2011

Getting ready for a summer road trip also means getting your vehicle ready for the trip. In addition to maps and route planning, you need to spend some time checking the car that will take you to your destination. The best plans may not end up quite as fun if you break down during your travel.

Fluid levels: Check all of the fluid levels in your car. If the oil has not been changed recently it might be a good time for this service. Another critical fluid level is the radiator to prevent overheating while you travel. Your owner’s manual should give you detailed instructions on the location of the fluids that you need to check. If you are not comfortable with this step, most auto shops will perform the service for a minimum fee. Do not forget your washer fluid, and be sure to check the quality of your wiper blades.

General items that may require service: If your car’s brakes are already making noise, you should have them inspected before heading out for summer travel. Check your air filter and replace it if necessary. This can be especially important if you plan to travel to any desert or beach areas. The potential for sand in the air will not help an already clogged air filter. Test your air-conditioning before heading off on your trip. If your system is not producing enough cold air, a simple recharge may be all you need.

It is also a good idea to check that your headlights, taillights, turn signals and flashers are all operational. Make space for a small emergency kit in the trunk of your car. Your kit should contain one or two road flares, a quart of oil and a half-gallon of clean water. You may also want to add a set of screwdrivers and a small medical kit. If you have a membership with an auto club for emergency services, make sure that you carry a card with their phone number and your account number.

Once your car is ready, you will only need to pack the items you need for your summer travel. Carry some drinking water and snacks for yourself and any passengers. While you can not prevent all vehicle breakdowns, a few simple steps should keep you safe along the way.

This special advertising section was written by B. Leslie Baird, a freelance writer, in conjunction with The Washington Post Custom Content department. The production of this supplement did not involve The Washington Post news or editorial staff.

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