Check your car before a road trip

Summer is not far away, and if you're planning on taking a road trip, don't wait to get your car in rop running condition to avoid any breakdowns that could ruin your fun.

Check your battery to make sure it's connection is not only tight but clean. Does it have a good charge? If it's nearing its life expectancy, buy a new one. Check all your car's fluid levels and top off, if necessary.

Do your tires have adequate tread? Check tread by inserting a quarter into the tread with George Washington's head upside down. If you can see the top of Washington's head, it's time to replace your tire. Check tire pressure. The correct pressure is listed on your car's door jam and your owner's manual.

Do your brakes squeak? Sounds like it's time for new brake pads.

Bring along emergency supplies, adds Consumer Reports. Include a flashlight, jumper cables, extra windshield washer fluid, first-aid kit, a small tool kit, a gallon of water and non-perishable food. You never know when you might need them. Add food, movies and music, if traveling with kids.

If you're hauling bikes, kayaks or other equipment in and on top of your car, along with kids, luggage and the dog, compare total weight to your car's weight capacity, also listed on the door jam.

Don't forget to pack a portable GPS if your car isn't equipped with a system. Most people have them on their phones nowadays. They can help you find the shortest route to your destination, alert you to any traffic issues along the way, and find the closest gas station if you're running low.

Finally, it's always a good idea to have your vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic about a week before you take off so your road trip is a fun and relaxing one.

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