Get Your Cruise On: Tips for Summer Road-Tripping

Thelma & LouiseBaby, the heat is on and poppin’! Summer is down the street and around the corner, and you and your boo are salivating over what hot spot to hit this summer. Your credit card limits have seen better days, so flying is just a fantasy. Road-tripping is the next best thing and the cheapest way to go, but first you’ve got to make sure ‘Miss Betsy” isn’t on her last wheel.

Before you cruise down that ribbon of highway, here are some tips to ensure that your ride won’t leave you thumbing on the roadside of some desolate Friday the 13th spot:

1) Don’t be slack when it comes to staying on top of all of your car’s scheduled maintenance recommendations. Remember, AAA will give you the boot if you call them too often for breakdowns.

2) Do make sure that your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated to prevent blowout and flats. Check the tread for uneven or excessive wear. You don’t want to ride on ‘baldies’ (when the tread goes flat) because you’ll wind up either making a connection in a bad way with another vehicle, or in a ditch somewhere. Do the math: more tread equals more grip. Don’t forget to check that spare as well — it can’t help you if it’s no good.

3) If the last time you got an oil change was when Obama took office, you could be in deep doo-doo. Changing your oil regularly, according to the automaker’s guidelines, helps to keep your car riding smoothly. It also prolongs the life of that costly do-dad under the hood, your engine!

4) Have your fluids checked. A car runs on juices, and if any of them are low, performance is compromised. Don’t deprive ‘Miss Betsy’ of getting her drink on, she needs the following cocktails to keep the party going:

• Engine oil
• Transmission fluid
• Gasoline
• Antifreeze/coolant
• Radiator coolant
• Brake fluid
• Windshield washer fluid
• Power steering fluid

5) Worn, cracked, disconnected, or blistered belts or soft hoses need to be inspected. These hoses and belts are located throughout your car, and if one isn’t right…well, you’d better be looking cute when you wind up hitchhiking!

6) Have your wiper blades seen better days? You know those summer rain showers can be pretty treacherous, so if you can’t see out your windshield when the heavens open up, change those blades.

7) Has your car battery been rocking your nerves lately? Might be time to get a new one. Don’t take any chances on your car conking out in place where Walmart is the only go-to spot for all.

8) Check your lights — head, brake, yield (the blinking ones), and interior. Make sure your vehicle can be seen in all given situations where you have to flip the light switch.

9) Get your brakes checked. You need to be able to stop safely, so if you hear squealing, and if the brake pedal feels soft, mosey to a mechanic to get your grip back and working in full effect.

10) If your air conditioning system is struggling to supply cool blasts, get it looked at by a pro. Unless you’re profiling in a drop-top, trying to look fierce as the wind beats through your product-ridden do, then having an air conditioner that works in sweltering heat is the next best thing.

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