(BPT) - As you hit the road for this year's vacation, you may see an increasing number of vehicles on the sides of the highway broken down either with mechanical problems or flat tires. Don't derail your travel fun by being one of them. A few simple steps will help you avoid being stuck on the side of the road - or at least be prepared in the event it happens.
Get your vehicle road-ready by doing several easy maintenance checks before you hit the highway. Routine review of the basics can save you expensive vehicle repairs, should damaged parts go undetected.
* Summer can be rough on your vehicle's cooling system, which is imperative to keeping the car at its optimal running temperature. Check your coolant level and inspect for cracked hoses, broken belts and leaks. To help keep engine temperatures low, try using a radiator coolant additive like Purple Ice from premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple. Purple Ice is a radiator conditioner that reduces coolant temperatures, improves performance and provides maximum protection.
* The most important safety feature on your vehicle is your brakes. When you hear them squealing, however, it's not necessarily a sign that they need to be replaced. You should be concerned about your brakes when you hear a scraping or grinding noise. Brakes should be replaced when the lining on your brake pad or brake shoe has worn down past the minimum thickness specified or required by state law. Allowing the scraping or grinding sound to go on for too long without an inspection could result in costly repairs.
* Replace your windshield wiper blades before you get caught in a rain storm. If your wipers are leaving streaks or they do not clear away light rain in one pass, you need to replace them. A quick visit to an auto parts store will get you the right blades for the make, model and year of your vehicle. If the store does not offer installation, carefully reading the instructions and observe the way the original blades were attached before making the change.
Have an emergency kit handy in your trunk, in case you do break down on the road. These can either be purchased as an assembled kit or you can put your own together. Items to include are: jumper cables, jack and tire iron, water for the radiator and you, emergency flares and reflectors, gloves, screwdrivers and wrenches in various sizes, a quart of oil, blanket, towel and flashlight. Always have your emergency roadside service numbers handy in your wallet and in the glove box.
Being stuck on the side of the road can be a hassle and can be expensive. Taking the time to do simple maintenance checks and being prepared in the event of an emergency will save time and money.