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Safe summer road trip checklist

SPONSORED — Nothing ruins a road trip more quickly than a blowup – from a car engine, a tire, or a grumpy child. While keeping kids entertained is one solution for the latter, there are ways you can prevent car troubles, as well.

Whether you’re driving nearby for a weekend campout or planning a road trip across the country, go beyond gassing up and packing jumper cables with the help of this checklist for what you need to do to your car, ATV, boat or any other vehicle you bring along.

Check your tires

The parts of your vehicle that will likely see the most wear this summer are its tires. If you haven’t checked tread depth (how deep the grooves are on your tires) or air pressure in a while, doing so – and making any necessary changes – will give you better traction and help prevent excessive wear-and-tear.

When you see uneven wear on your tires, notice a subtle drifting to the side even when you’re driving straight, or feel a vibration in your steering wheel at high speeds, it means your car may be out of alignment. Because most cars hit potholes, speed bumps or rough patches, it’s common to need to schedule an alignment. Doing so will extend the life of your tires and help you make it home safely from your trip.

Check your lights

Headlights, brake lights, blinkers and other lights need to be replaced from time to time. It’s a good idea in the days before your trip to do a quick vehicle inspection by turning on all your lights and replacing any burnt-out bulbs.

Check your fluids

Vehicles need many fluids to function correctly. In addition to regular oil changes, you should periodically top off your other fluids, including radiator fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, air conditioning coolant, and washer fluid. You can take care of this yourself at home with the help of your owner’s manual, or at a mechanic shop, where a pro can take care of filling fluids for you.

Additionally, if you’ll be traveling through remote areas or in high heat, it’s not a bad idea to carry antifreeze and an extra pint or two of motor oil.

Check your trailers and recreational vehicles

Don’t let an expired registration or the wrong type of fuel ruin your fun on an ATV or jet ski. You should perform regular maintenance on any boats, motorcycles or other recreational vehicles but, even if you haven’t, get them checked before trusting them to run safely on vacation.

Look for updated registration certificates, check that the engines start and run normally, switch lights on and off, ensure license plates are attached, and carry extra fuel.

Check your emergency supplies

Road trips can run into unexpected hiccups and detours. It’s hard to plan for the unexpected, but carrying a few supplies will lessen the chance of a small problem becoming a huge ordeal. The National Safety Council says these items should be in every vehicle’s emergency supply kit:

A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tire jack
Jumper cables
Tool kit
Nonperishable, high-energy foods (nuts, dried fruits, hard candy)
Drinking water
Cell phone car charger
Fire extinguisher
Duct tape
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit (including bandages, tape, antibiotic ointment, painkillers, a blanket, gloves, scissors, cold packs)

Get your car and recreational vehicles in ship-shape for summer by visiting a Point S Tire location near you, so you can hit the road, worry-free.

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