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Safety tips for your summer road trip

Make sure your vehicle is prepared before you take to the road this summer

Published: June 28, 2012, 7:00 AM

Wiper blade replacment - Kelly Williams - AIA - 2. Wipers – Look at them closely. If they were used last winter, the leading edges are probably roughened or scarred. Replace them with new ones – winter blades preferably.

With summer already here and the July 1 holiday weekend imminent, chances are there's a road trip planned in your near future.

Whether you're planning a sea-to-sea cross-Canada trek, crossing the border for some shopping and sight-seeing or just heading up to cottage country, some tips from Be Car Care Aware (BCCA) can help you make sure your vehicle is safe and prepared before you take to the road this summer.

The BCCA program is operated by the Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada.

Here is BCCA's recommended pre-trip checklist:

1.Check all fluids: It’s vacation time, and the last thing you need is to run out of gas, or the less obvious fluids, like engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluids. Have these levels checked and topped up before hitting the road – and don’t forget to top up on washer fluid as well. Mosquitoes and other flying insects can make a real mess of a windshield and restrict your visibility.

2.Check hoses and belts: Avoid engine overheating or getting caught in mid-summer heat with no air conditioning! A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.

3.Check the tires: Don’t get caught on the side of the road while the rest of your family and friends roast marshmallows by the campfire. Check tire inflation and also inspect the tread for uneven wear (indicating the need for wheel alignment). Also look for bulges and bald spots.

4.Check Lighting: Summer road trip destinations are often off the beaten path, and you can’t afford to get stuck with dull or malfunctioning lights. Check all exterior and interior lighting to identify any problems. When your vehicle’s lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn. The end result could be disastrous.

5. Check the wiper blades: Make sure the windshield wipers are in good condition and working properly: Keep the reservoir filled with solvent. Worn-out wipers should be checked and replaced if needed prior to a road trip. As a rule of thumb, wipers should be replaced every six months.

And here's a bonus tip: if you'll be towing a trailer, make sure it's thoroughly inspected too, including tires, lights, tie-downs and vehicle attachment hardware.

Performing a pre-trip vehicle inspection, or having it done by a professional, can help avoid a breakdown far from home and let you enjoy your summer to the max.

For more vehicle maintenance and safety tips or additional information on the Be Car Care Aware program, visit http://www.becarcareaware.ca.