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5 ways to prep your car for your summer road trip

SPONSORED — Summer is (unofficially) here and if you’re like many Americans, the open road is calling your name. According to The New York Times, road trips comprised 39 percent of all American vacations in 2016. If you’ll be packing the trunk or hitching up the recreational vehicle this summer, there are a few things you can do to make sure car trouble doesn’t pump the brakes on your next family vacation.

Get aligned

When you’re on the road, you don’t want your car pulling anything over on you or pulling in general. Before you head off, make sure your alignment is on point. Not only will it make for a smoother drive, but it’ll also save your tires from some unnecessary wear.

“To maximize the life of your tires, make sure your car is properly aligned,” said Dan Earley of Earley Tire Point S in Aberdeen. “Nothing will wear your tires out faster than if your car or truck is out of alignment. The price of an alignment is definitely cheaper than a set of new tires, and most vehicles do tend to get out of alignment after a while, with pot holes, speed bumps, rough roads – you never know.”

Put on the brakes

When it comes to vacations, you might be go, go, go, but you definitely want your car able to stop, stop, stop. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your brakes checked, do it now before you wind up in stop-and-go traffic on the interstate. This is particularly important if your car is showing any signs of failing brakes: squeaking or grinding sounds, vibrations while braking, a burning smell, leaking fluid or, of course, an illuminated brake light. See a trusted mechanic quickly if you’ve noticed any of the above.

Put some pressure in

…and keep it in. According to Travis Newman of Centralia Point S Tire & Auto, checking your tire pressure is the most important thing you can do before a road trip – or just to extend the life of your tires.

“I personally find that air pressure is the thing most people overlook,” Newman said. “They don’t check the air pressure until they have a low tire. You’ll get a lack of traction and the tire will wear faster and abnormally with low pressure.”

Earley added that all tires lose air pressure.

“The seal between the tire and wheel is not 100 percent,” he explained. “So tires will lose a couple pounds of pressure over time.”

Centralia Point S, along with other Point S locations, offer free air pressure adjustments and tire checks, so be sure to stop in to make sure your pressure is optimal.

Give the RV or trailer some love

You may only let it out of the garage three months of the year, but your RV or trailer still deserves some attention.

“A lot of times, people prepare their cars, but not their RVs or trailers,” said Marc Thompson of Everett Point S Tire & Auto. “Then they break down because they haven’t used it in a long time and haven’t prepared for that holiday travel. Nothing ruins a holiday more than not being prepared.”

If you’ll be driving an RV or towing one behind you, make sure you get the tire tread and air pressure inspected when you get your vehicle checked.

Don’t wait for the holiday

While it’s just good sense to get your car inspected before taking it on a long drive, a holiday isn’t the only time you should be thinking about the health of your automobile.

“I’m a strong believer in preventative maintenance,” Thompson said. “Make sure you’re up on your service schedules. Check your oil every time you fill up with gas.”

Not keeping up on your service schedule could cost you. According to Bankrate, the cost of skipping $1,000 worth of car maintenance will wind up costing you $8,000 down the line. Road trip or no, get the care your trusty auto deserves.

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