Travel like an expert on your road trips this summer

The driving frenzy that is Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Here are some tips from sources such as Consumer Reports, Edmunds and AAA to help ensure that your road trip is one you'll always remember, rather than one you'll want to forget.

Is your vehicle fit?

Lift the hood: Fluids, filters, belts, hoses, cooling system, brakes and tires should be checked.

Clear for take-off: Be sure all the lights and turn signals work. Windshield wiper blades shouldn't streak or scrape. Also, make sure that your spare tire is usable and properly inflated.

Watts up: If your car's battery is more than 3 years old, have it checked. Better yet, replace it.

Chillin': Make sure your air-conditioning system is fully charged. If your vehicle has a cabin air filter, have it cleaned.

Older vehicles: If your car or truck has high mileage, is too small or has been unreliable, consider a rental.

The art of packing

Placement: Heaviest items should be placed closest to the center of the car. In SUVs, place the heaviest items on the floor to maintain safe handling.

Lock it down: Remove loose items from the rear parcel shelf so they don't hit passengers in a panic stop.

Keep the spare in mind: As you pack the trunk, remember that you might have to unpack it to access the spare tire.

Line of sight: Keep your rear view clear, no matter how large the load.

In good order: If you use road maps, stack them in the order of use.

A heavy load: Make sure the combined weight of passengers and cargo doesn't exceed your vehicle's maximum load capacity. Overloading can overtax vehicle systems and lead to a serious accident. The cap is listed in your owner's manual and varies by vehicle and are lower than you might expect. A four-cylinder Honda Accord has a maximum capacity of 850 pounds. A Toyota Highlander can carry up to 1,200 pounds, while a Honda Odyssey is rated at 1,320 pounds, according to Consumer Reports.

Worst-case scenarios

Contact information: Give someone a trip itinerary so you be can located in an emergency.

Important papers: Don't forget your driver's license, vehicle registration and auto and medical insurance cards. If you might need to reach your doctor, take the phone number, along with any prescriptions.

Just in case: Have your mate carry a spare set of vehicle keys. And, you are taking a mobile phone with car charger, right?

First aid kit: Consider having adhesive tape, gauze bandage and pads, plastic band strips, disinfectant salve, small scissors, pain relievers, tweezers and hand sanitizer.

Emergency kit: Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat-head), pliers, socket wrenches, duct tape, electrical wire tape, electrical wire spray, WD-40, flashlight with extra batteries, coolant hose repair kit, small fire extinguisher, jumper cables, tire gauge, road flares, spare fuses, foam tire sealant or a portable air compressor, jumper cables, rain gear, work gloves, roadside assistance phone number, a disposable camera (to record accident damage), spare fluids and nonperishable food.

Travel like an expert on your road trips this summer 05/26/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:35pm]

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