* Before the summer heat hits, be sure to have a full vehicle inspection -- including the air conditioner -- to be sure it is cooling correctly. Taking this step may help avoid costly repairs.
* Check all four tires, as well as the spare, at least once a month and before every long trip. Use an accurate tire gauge to make certain your tire pressure is at the recommended level. Also, check the treads using a tread depth indicator.
* When you are packing up vacation necessities, take care not to overload your vehicle. This could create excessive heat inside your tires and even cause tire failure.
* Take a few moments to prepare and pack an emergency kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, gloves, simple tools, flares, nonperishable food and water, and, if you have one, your auto club membership card.
Getting on the Highway
* Use good driving habits. Accelerating quickly and stopping abruptly can prematurely wear out your vehicle's engine, transmission, tires and brakes.
* To improve your fuel economy, try to maintain a constant speed in order to reduce strain on your vehicle. Use the cruise control setting when it is safe.
* Caught in traffic with a rising temperature gauge? To eliminate some engine heat and help prevent your vehicle from overheating, put the vehicle in neutral and give it a little gas.
Just like you invest the time to stay in shape, in your haste to get on the road, don't forget to take the time to make certain your vehicle is up to the task of safely hauling your family to your vacation destination.