summer driving tipsSummer is the time for travel and with gas prices the lowest that they have been in many years during the months for traditional road trips, more people are taking to the highways for their weeks away from home. While it’s tempting to pack suitcases with a few clothes, jump in your vehicle and go, you still need to prepare for your time away from home to avert or at least minimize mishaps and make your trip memorable.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance
Have your mechanic change the oil, inspect the tires, brakes and battery and perform and perform an overall safety check before you leave. Schedule the work far enough in advance so that if your vehicle has an issue that needs attention it can be addressed properly. Make sure your tires have a sufficient amount of tread left to safely take you to your destination and back. Vehicles that are in top shape have a better chance of performing well on the road and less chance of encountering a breakdown.

Pack Smart
Check your vehicle’s load capacity and make sure that you’re not placing too much weight inside the cabin and trunk. Remember to include the weight of passengers too. On most newer vehicles, the load capacity is noted on the placard inside the driver’s door jam. Only fill rooftop cargo boxes with light items as heavy loads on top can make the vehicle more difficult to handle and can increase the risk of a roll over. Note that the more weight your vehicle carries, the less efficient your gas mileage will be.

Be Prepared
A vehicle emergency kit is just as important in summer as it is in winter if you have an accident or medical issue. Stock your car with a flashlight, flares, water and extra snack just in case you are stranded. Basic tools for changing tires such as a jack and lug wrench are also necessary. If you’re traveling with children, remember to pack sufficient snacks for the as well as games and activities to keep them busy.

Electronic Devices
If your car doesn’t have a built-in GPS, get a smart phone app or buy a portable GPS device to help you get to your destination. Remember that mapping devices aren’t always fully accurate, so take along backup maps. Use a universal car charger to ensure that all electronic devices are fully charged during your journey.