* Change your oil and filter. Dirty oil or a contaminated filter can cause excessive engine wear, which can lead to poor vehicle performance or premature engine failure. While having your oil changed, have the service specialist check your belts and hoses, transmission fluid level, and battery and electrical system.
* Properly inflate your tires. Proper tire inflation can make a big difference in the way your vehicle rides and handles, improving gas mileage by more than 3 percent when maintained regularly, according to the Car Care Council. Also, remember to properly inflate your spare tire. Have tires rotated every other oil change or as directed in your owner's manual.
* Regularly inspect your brakes. Since your brakes wear gradually over time, the loss of braking power often goes undetected. Make sure to have your brake pads, shoes and all related equipment inspected.
* Look for leaks. Be sure to check both the coolant level and your air conditioning system's refrigerant. Leaks in either system may cause your vehicle - and you - to overheat.
* Check your shocks and struts. Your vehicle's shocks and struts should be checked in conjunction with wheel alignment or if you notice excessive bouncing, swaying, rocking or nose-diving while braking.
* Plan for unexpected car problems. For about $60, you can purchase a 60-day DaimlerChrysler Vacation & Travel Security Package that provides up to $1,000 of trip interruption protection including transportation, meals and lodging if a vehicle breaks down more than 100 miles from home. The package also allows for rental car allowance for any necessary overnight repairs, trip routing, auto valet concierge service, discount coupons and a pre-trip oil change, plus a lube and vehicle safety inspection.
* Secure your car. Always lock your vehicle's doors and trunk, even at home, and keep your car keys out of reach of children.
* Plan to take breaks. Everyone needs a break when traveling long distances. To ward off boredom and exhaustion, schedule frequent stops for meals or just some time to let the kids run around.
* Find ways to keep young passengers occupied. There are many activities you can provide for kids in the car. Pack a kit of books, maps, stickers, their favorite compact discs and travel games.
For more information on vehicle maintenance or servicing, call or visit your local Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealership.