Timely tips for a trouble-free trip

There is nothing worse than taking off for a vacation and two hours out on the road you encounter car problems. The situation usually means more than just a repair bill. It can involve all sorts of added costs, resulting in an expensive ordeal. So, if spiraling gas prices have not discouraged you from hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend, take heed before you take off. The Car Doctor at Precision Tune Auto Care has 10 tips for saving money on gas, and for ensuring a trouble-free trip.

1. Closely inspect your tires. At highway speeds, a blow out with the vehicle fully loaded with family and luggage can spell disaster. Check for balding, bumps, nails and proper inflation. Don’t forget your spare tire. Is it inflated? Do you have a jack and all needed tools for changing a tire? Check tires when cool. Tire pressure will change after extended highway speeds.

2. Have brakes and brake fluid inspected. If fluid is low, do not just top if off. There’s a reason it is low. Check brake pads and shoes for wear.

3. Visually check all brake lights, turn signals and head lamps – including high beams – to ensure they are working and properly focused.

4. Have your cooling system examined by a trained professional for the following: leaks; sound hoses; coolant level and mixture ratio; radiator cap; cooling fan to make sure it is operating properly; and pH level of coolant.

5. Make sure your technician checks your A/C system for proper freon level and condition of belts. To help conserve gasoline, use your air conditioner on the road rather than keeping windows down. Open windows create wind drag, straining the engine.

6. Change engine oil and filters if you haven’t done that in the last three months or 3,000 miles.

7. Check the condition and windshield wiper blades and have them changed if they do not provide adequate visibility, and top off the windshield wiper solution.

8. Use cruise control to maintain a steady speed and save gas.

9. Use only the fuel octane recommended for your car. Higher octane gas, which produces less energy, not only costs more, it also yields lower miles per gallon.

10. Every time you stop for gas, check the oil level and inspect tires and clean the windshield. If you are making a quick pit pit stops (five minutes or less), do not cut the engine; let the car idle for a few minutes.