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It's summertime - or at least, it's finally starting to feel like it! The prime time to vacation and travel is once again here! I know that I'm really looking forward to my vacation this year - aren't we all?!
 
According to a survey by AAA­, 31.7 million Americans plan to travel by car over Memorial Day weekend. Before hitting the road this summer, you can take several simple precautions to keep you and your family safe.
 
Extreme heat and long drives can be tough on cars. Use the tips below to help make sure you're staying safe on the road this summer. 
  • Check Your Tires - Tires are one of the most overlooked parts of a car. Under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tires can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather. Tire pressure changes with the rising temperatures -- approximately one to two PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree increase in outside air temperature. Make sure you know what your normal tire pressure should be, then check it with a hand pressure gauge or ask the guys at the service shop do it for you.
     
  • Change Your Oil - Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth, and cool. Many of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer when an engine is more likely to overheat. Oil change specialists suggest that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. Make sure you're checking your oil regularly to reduce your risk of overheating your engine during the warmer months.
     
  • Replace Your Windshield Wipers - Summertime is notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When buckets of water are beating against your windshield, you need wipers that really work - even more so at night, when a rain storm can decrease visibility to 15 or 20 feet in front of your vehicle. If your wipers are leaving visible streaks or take several passes to clear away light rain, they need to be replaced.
     
  • Check the Coolant & Radiator - Cars are designed to run hot, but there's a limit to how hot they should run. if an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of internal problems for your engine. all modern cars have an ingenious cooling system that uses a chemical coolant - antifreeze - and a series of pumps, hoses, thermostats and fans to keep the car at its optimal running temperature. 
The summertime is tough on cooling systems. Sitting in traffic on a hot day is one of the quickest ways to overheat your car, because there's no air flowing across the engine to help keep it cool. A well-tuned cooling system can take long idles in hot weather, but if you have low coolant levels or a busted fan belt, your engine temperature is going to go up -- and fast. Make it a habit to check under the hood and make sure that your coolant levels are fine on a regular basis and take action if it's needed.
 
For more information about car care and regular maintenance, visit www.auto.howstuffworks.com. How Stuff Works is one of my favorites sites for tips like this because not only does it give you the tips you need, but it gives you the ‘how' as well. It's a neat site and definitely worth browsing if you're looking for entertainment online or just thirsting for knowledge about pretty much anything.
 
Posted 12:35 PM  View Comments

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