* Pay attention to the tires. Stopping on wet roads can take up to four times longer than on dry surfaces. Plus, if the tire tread is worn, the tires may hydroplane, or skim over the road with little or no traction. Help avoid this situation by checking tires regularly.
Properly inflate all four tires, plus your spare, to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended levels. Tires can lose up to 1 pound of air pressure per square inch per month. Use an accurate tire gauge to check tire air pressure monthly and only do it when the car is cool - meaning when it has been driven less than 1 mile or has not moved in at least three hours.
To check the tires' tread, perform this simple test in several areas of the tire: Place a U.S. penny into a tread groove with Lincoln's head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, the tire should be replaced.
* Consider the owner's manual the "textbook" for learning about the vehicle. Follow the vehicle manufacturer's maintenance schedule in the owner's manual or pick up a free schedule at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care center.
* Be ready for emergencies. Keep an emergency kit in your car for any unexpected breakdowns or accidents.
Trisha Hessinger is a national spokeswoman for Firestone Complete Auto Care's award-winning Car Care Academy program. For more information on the program, visit www.Master CareUSA.com.