Auto Club: Don't Wreck Your Summer Road Trip

(LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2008) – The summer vacation season unofficially begins this weekend with the Memorial Day holiday and in the coming months millions of Americans will drive to their summer getaways. The Automobile Club of Southern California notes that the steps to ensure your summer vacation goes smoothly begin well before you pull out of the driveway and onto the freeways.

No one wants to spend their vacation stranded on the roadside, but last summer AAA responded to more than seven million calls nationally for roadside assistance from June to August. These calls represent interrupted vacations, family reunions, trips to theme parks, parks and beaches, museums, restaurants and more.

To help motorists prepare their vehicle and summer road trip, and also manage high gas prices, the Auto Club is offering a Fuel Saver Inspection through July 31 at participating AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities that provide high quality maintenance and repairs and guarantee their work. The Fuel Saver Inspection is a general vehicle and visual under-the-hood inspection. Find the nearest participating AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility that offers the Fuel Saver Inspection online, or call 1-800-713-0003.

“The secret to a successful and fun-filled summer road trip is advance planning of your trip and that includes preparation of your vehicle,” said Dave Skaien, the Auto Club’s Approved Auto Repair Program Development Manager.

“The Auto Club encourages drivers to take time prior to their road trip to obtain a vehicle inspection to identify needed maintenance or repairs, map out and plan their trip and take along emergency supplies with them for their journey,” said Skaien. Preparing your vehicle in advance can help reduce the likelihood of mechanical problems during your trip, he added.

Drivers should check the following maintenance items, or have them checked by a certified auto mechanic:

  • Check tires for uneven or excessive tread wear and make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated. Inflate tires to recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can cut gas mileage.
  • Inspect the antifreeze/coolant level. Make sure the water and coolant is the mixture that’s specified in the vehicle owner’s manual. Check if the coolant has been flushed and changed as recommended.
  • Replace worn or cracked belts and hoses. Even belts and hoses that look fine, should be replaced as a safety precaution, if more than 5 years old.
  • Check the level and condition of engine oil. When driving under extreme conditions such as 90 to 100-plus degree temperatures, or when towing a heavy trailer, consider switching to heavier motor oil. Check the owner’s manual “severe driving conditions” section for oil recommendations.
  • Since high temperatures can compromise batteries, test and replace old or weak batteries. Be sure to check the water level of batteries with removable cell caps. If the battery is more than three years old, have it tested during each maintenance service and if it’s more than 5 years old, consider replacing it due to age.
  • Don’t leave home without fresh windshield wiper blades and the “forgotten” fluid, windshield washer fluid. Fresh blades and windshield washer fluid will help to remove road dirt and insects from your windshield. Use pre-mixed fluid, not water from a garden hose. The premixed fluid won’t harm exterior vehicle paint.


Running out of gas or getting lost can severely dampen the excitement of a road trip vacation. Plan your route in advance by getting up-to-date, accurate maps and routing information. With the help of an online service such as the TripTik Travel Planner, or AAA Mobile for cell phone users, travelers can find approved repair facilities, gas stations, lodgings and restaurants along their route.

Even well maintained cars and trucks can break down, so bring drinking water, a windshield shade, and a wireless phone along on a road trip. Also, pack a comprehensive emergency kit with a flashlight, a basic tool kit, a least a gallon of water and a gallon of coolant.