Summer Driving Checklist

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Memorial Day is the official kick-off of the summer driving season.  Whether you are taking a long road trip to visit family and friends or just taking a quick trip to the beach or mountains, you will want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape and stocked with essentials.  Nothing takes the shine off a fun road trip more than waiting for a rescue or tow vehicle to arrive, especially if you don’t have a good stock of snacks and games to pass the time.

I have to admit, I come from a car vacation family.  My father lived by the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  He took the car to our family mechanic on a regular basis, but always before we headed off on any car vacation.  Thankfully, we had very few breakdowns, but that’s because he took a few simple precautions.

Here’s a simple checklist to get you started:

  1. Make sure your car is in good condition by taking it to a trusted mechanic.  Most mechanics have a multi-point checklist, but if not, ensure they perform at least the following services:
    1. Check the battery and plugs.
    2. Check the belts and coolant levels.
    3. Ensure your tires have plenty of tread and the appropriate tire pressure.
    4. Check the air filter to ensure maximum efficiency.
    5. Change the oil if it’s time.
    6. Check the wiper blades.
  2. Clean your car.
    1. Get rid of what you don’t need.  Summer road trips are much more enjoyable if you aren’t dealing with old food wrappers, outdated receipts, and hats and scarves from the winter season.
    2. Vacuum both the seats and floor thoroughly.
    3. Protect the interior with a good leather or vinyl protector.
    4. Wash and wax your car.  Be sure to check for and repair any scratches that may later result in rust or corrosion.
  3. Make sure your car is stocked with essentials.
    1. Vehicle manual in case of breakdown.
    2. Jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, flares, warning triangle, and security vest.
    3. First aid kit.
    4. Small tool kit.
    5. Flashlight (make sure batteries are strong).
    6. Extra windshield washer fluid, coolant, and a fire extinguisher.
    7. Cell phone charger.
    8. Pencil and notebook for games or just taking notes along your trip.
    9. Snacks.  Make sure the snacks won’t melt if the car gets warm.
    10. Water.  Have enough water for however long you will be in the car on that particular day.  Due to potential health risks if the plastic gets warm, you don’t want to store disposable water bottles in your car for extended periods of time.

If you take care of your car and do some careful planning, your summer road trip will be safe and full of fond memories.  Go enjoy some summer fun!

For more great advice from AAA:

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