Before You Go
What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down
Online Auto Diagnostic Center
Approved Auto Repair facilities in your area

Not just fun and games
Preparing the family car for a
vacation trip is serious business

Published: Jul/Aug 2002
By Deborah Reinhardt
Managing Editor

After getting the car in shape for a trip, don’t forget to get maps, TourBooks and a TripTik from AAA for your family’s vacation.
Packing the car for today’s family vacation often goes like this: cooler with snacks (check); video games for GameBoy® (check); music CDs (check); movies for the VCR (check).

Amusements for a car trip have changed from when you were a child in the back seat, but it’s still vital to make the vehicle ready for the long ride.

Before a long trip, take your car to one of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair facilities for a comprehensive evaluation of the vehicle’s condition. Checks should include testing of all the majors systems, such as cooling, electrical, belts, hoses, brakes, tires, steering, drive train, fluid levels and air conditioning.

For proper tire pressure, consult the manual for the manufacturer’s specifications, and always have the pressure checked when the tire is cold.

Keeping your car on the go

Two of the predominant breakdowns that occur during summer are failed batteries and overheated engines. If a battery is more than four years old, consider replacing it before a long trip.

The cooling system operates best when the coolant is a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. Defective or leaking hoses contribute to overheating.

Today’s engines are made of aluminum and warp much faster than the old cast iron engines.

If the temperature gauge creeps up, but the light hasn’t come on, turn off the accessories–including the air conditioner–to reduce the load and turn on the car’s heater, Linck said. This will transfer heat from the cooling system.

Should the temperature light come on, pull all the way off the road, completely out of traffic. Shut off the engine and allow it to cool down before driving to a nearby repair facility. Do not attempt to remove a radiator cap on a hot engine. If the car loses power and is inoperable, switch on emergency flashers. Do not risk injury by pushing the car to another location. Get out of the car if there’s a danger of being struck from behind, and don’t stand in front or behind the vehicle.

Getting better gas mileage

Gas prices are on the minds of many travelers this summer. To get the most efficient gas mileage, avoid quick starts and stops. Air conditioning can contribute to greater fuel consumption. If possible, travel in early morning while temperatures are cooler. Clean the car’s fuel injection system, and keep within the speed limit.

Finally, be sure that everyone in the car is buckled up–especially small children and infants.

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