With summer now here, is a road trip part of your vacation plans? AAA predicts almost 9 in 10 travelers will be driving to their destinations to kick off the summer driving season so don’t get caught on the side of the road as they pass you by. Adding insult to injury is the cost of roadside assistance, towing, car repair, a rental car, and possibly even lodging while your car is in the shop far away from home. Minimize the risk of a roadside breakdown by following these 5 tips:

  1. Check the tires for uneven or excessive tread wear. Make sure all tires, including the spare, are inflated properly. Under-inflated tires can increase the chance of a blow-out and also drag down fuel economy  Do at least one check BEFORE hitting the road as tires hot from driving give inaccurate inflation readings. Also, make sure you or your travel buddy know how to change a flat tire. Luckily, I had my husband with me the last time I had a blow out and even luckier that we weren’t on a major road trip since my spare was a donut tire that only is meant to drive for about 30 miles.
  2. If there’s any question on how old the battery is, have it tested by a qualified automotive technician since the average lifespan is only about 2 to 5 years according to Fox News. Keep in mind that hot weather can shorten the life of a car’s battery. And NEVER let a friend sit in your car and listen to the radio for a few hours when she’s bored at a party but you aren’t ready to leave. This happened to me years ago when Fort Lauderdale was still the hot place for spring break and my battery died for good 800 miles from home.
  3. Look for worn, cracked, or blistered belts and hoses – especially the radiator hose.  See tip 5 – the extra water isn’t just for you; your car’s radiator might get thirsty if it overheats. I remember a few times where turning on the heat full blast in 90 degree weather just wasn’t enough to cool down a tempermental radiator in my first Chevy and I’d have to pull over halfway to Ocean City to add water.
  4. Don’t let your gas tank get below a quarter tank. You never know where the next gas station will be. And due to Murphy’s Law, when you do find a gas station – it will be closed for the night. I haven’t run out of gas yet but I sure do test my low gas warning light to the extreme!
  5. Just in case you do hit a speed bump, carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, flares, jumper cables, a first aid kit, and extra water.

Do you have any road trip tips? Any car breakdown stories? Share them in the comments section below.