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These car care tips are cheap and easy (Getty Images).
Summer is the perfect time to take a road trip or visit friends and relatives who live far away. Your car is a gateway to visiting the big city, going on a fishing trip, taking a hike in the woods or just barbecuing at the lake. Before leaving for a trip, you should ensure that your vehicle is in proper working condition. After all, nothing ruins a warm sunny day like getting stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Follow these five easy steps to make sure your summer road trip is a safe and inexpensive endeavor.

1. Check your tires

Checking your tires is a good idea when you go on any long trip, no matter what season it is. Over time, your tires can become deflated and may need to be topped off with some air. Usually, your car's owner's manual will have the proper air pressure. You can also check the driver door jamb for a sticker with the prescribed pressure levels. Low tire pressure can hurt your car's fuel economy and make it harder to steer, which is a serious safety issue.

Also, make sure you have plenty of tread (using the penny test), and that the wear is distributed evenly along each tire. If your tread is low or worn unevenly, visit a tire shop to remedy the problem as soon as possible.

2. Get your brakes inspected

Your brakes are among the most important safety devices in your car. Worn-out brakes can mean the difference between a harsh stop and a serious accident. If you haven't had your brakes checked in the past year, swing by a local shop to have them inspect the wear on your pads. For most cars, a visual inspection takes only a few minutes and can literally save your life.

3. Inspect your belts

As a car ages, the belts become dry and brittle, causing them to crack and, eventually, break. If your belt snaps on the road, your car will cease working and you'll lose a lot of time and money having it towed to the nearest shop. The time it takes to get a belt inspection is a tiny fraction of the time it takes to get pulled home from the middle of nowhere.

4. Top off coolant

Your car's cooling system is particularly critical when the weather heats up and you're running the air conditioner to stay nice and frosty inside. If your car's low coolant light has come on in the last few months, open up the hood and check the coolant level. Most cars have a built-in gauge that indicates the proper level. Only check your coolant level when the car has not been driven recently, and make sure to top off with distilled water to avoid impurities.

5. Refill window washer fluid reservoir

During a long trip, your windshield will assuredly become covered in dust and dead bugs. To make sure you can quickly and easily remove these without having to stop at a gas station, ensure that your window washer fluid reservoir is full. You can buy the fluid at your local auto parts store, and it's usually relatively cheap. The window washer fluid reservoir on most cars is easy to find under the hood, as it's indicated by a picture of a windshield on the cap.

Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide.com, the online marketplace for original used auto parts.

DIY Car Care Saves Money Down Road

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      if masturbating while driving, please, refrain from cell phone usage at that time!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hi how are every one today ? Good sites now iam on Aol mail Thank God for life i went sgin up for free Aol 's mail and i was approved So my Friends I will see you there. IF Iam not Hack again . But i don't care any more because Now the U.S.A. Gov. is working on it HORA HORA.!!!!!!! But I really don't care about that any more.Once I have God on my side he will put things right for us. And i say us because there is a lot of us that was Hack into .PRAISE GOD .
      • 1 Year Ago
      also - it is TYRE with a Y if you are going to put an article on the aol.co.uk site at least correct the spelling.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Sorry bloke, it's tire. Deal with it. Be thankful we don't use the southern dialect version, tahr.
          • 1 Year Ago
          **** it's tyre for uk so get stuffed with your tire which is yank ****
      • 1 Year Ago
      No Road Rages allowed?
      • 1 Year Ago
      This move is shitty!! I clicked here to read 5 secrets from sales, not how any normal driver should take care of their car during road trips. TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED....
      • 1 Year Ago
      as with car salespeople, it's all a scam....
      • 1 Year Ago
      yes with all the mugging and car jacking it not real safe Indiana has become murder cap. of the world! it's got to stop carry auto guns if needed. Me having stage 4 K failure and in need and can't get no help.. Behind from winter bills and bank and meds plus rent we need help yesterday, L Edwards 317-356-2638 H phone thank you for reading
      • 1 Year Ago
      I keep clicking on 5 secrets from car sales men and it goes to 5 tips for safe driving that every one should
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good advise. Thank you.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bogus site. Shame on AOL for having any association with mess like this. I will never click on another article from AOL. First and last time.
      • 1 Year Ago
      interesting article interesting read thanks.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now I remember why I don't look at these sites, it's because it says one thing and gives you something other. Are you checked to see if you are still breathing when you filled this site out. I don't get it!
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