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Vacation Car Care Tips from AutoZone

Tips for a safe car on your next road trip

This time of year finds many Americans enjoying vacations; but that doesn't mean it's time to take a vacation from regular car maintenance. In fact, neglecting your vehicle during extreme weather could be costly. Follow these simple tips from AutoZone to help keep your car on the road.

Check the coolant level and inspect the radiator cap

Wait until the engine is cool before unscrewing the radiator cap. If the rubber gasket inside the cap is cracked or brittle, replace the cap. Top off the coolant at the overflow reservoir, not at the radiator. If your antifreeze is more than a couple of years old, play it safe and flush and fill your cooling system before your trip.

Inspect your radiator hoses

Wait until engine is cool before making sure hose clamps are tight. Additionally, check the ends for cracks or corrosion. Because extreme heat can cause leaks and other damage, keep an eye out for hard, blistered or spongy hoses. If any of these warning signs are present, replace the hoses immediately.

Inspect your fan belts

Check belts for cracks, wear, glazing and proper tension. A worn or loose belt can cause the engine to overheat. It's also a good idea to keep spare belts in your trunk, especially if your vehicle has a single serpentine or multi-v belt. If this belt fails, you're stuck.

Inspect your battery

Winter weather often gets the blame for battery failure, but it's the summer heat that does the most damage to a battery. If corrosion is present, clean it with a mixture of baking soda and water, and put on a set of battery washers to keep corrosion from coming back. Top any low battery cells with distilled water. Make sure the battery terminals and hold-downs are tight. Finally, you'll want to have the battery tested; your local AutoZone can test your battery for free.

Test your starting and charging system

Excessive under hood temperatures can also short-circuit your car's starter and alternator. That's why it's a great idea to take your car to AutoZone or to a local service technician for a starting and charging system test. It can help you spot potential problems with your starter, alternator, and battery before they cause trouble down the road.

Maximize performance and gas mileage

Rough idle, engine hesitation and declining fuel economy are often due to fuel system deposits. Adding a fuel system cleaner to your gas tank after every oil change (every three months or 3,000 miles for most drivers) removes deposits and restores engine performance and fuel economy.

Remember to always wear safety goggles when working on your car or truck.

For more tips on how to maintain your car this summer, stop by your local AutoZone store, or visit us online.