Travel safely, save money with these tips before you leave for trips, family gatherings

AAA Travel is predicting heavy holiday travel this year. Their recent report showed that people who cancelled holiday vacations and family gatherings last year are preparing to make up for lost time over the next two weeks.

The report estimated that 34% more people will travel 50 miles or more as they drive, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town between December 23 and January 2. Airplanes are expected to see a 184% travel increase compared to last year. Over 100-million people are expected to out on the roads as they travel to their destinations.

Make sure your car is safe to drive with this checklist from Mr. Transmission and Milex Complete Auto Care:

  • Cooling Systems: Car engines can overheat after spending several hours on the interstate while driving at high speeds.  It is important to make sure you have the proper type of engine coolant, which is a 50/50 coolant and water mixture and it is filled to the correct levels.
  • Battery: Car batteries can deteriorate quickly and without much warning.  Between extended engine use, air conditioning, radio, GPS and other passenger electronics, a long trip can contribute to draining a car’s battery.  Most batteries have a 4-5 year lifespan and it is important to test the battery prior to making a long trip.
  • Tires: Car owners should monitor the proper air pressure and amount of tread on each tire and have them properly aligned and balanced.  The air in the tires contracts when the weather gets colder, so owners will want to make sure tires are not under-inflated.
  • Suspension System: We often load up the car with a family of passengers, luggage and personal items when making a long car trip.  The additional weight on the vehicle causes a strain on the suspension system, which includes the springs, shock absorbers and struts.  Worn suspension components may reduce the stability of the vehicle and reduce driver control, as well as accelerate wear on other suspension system components.
  • Air Filter: A car’s air filter should be changed each year or every 15,000 miles.  This gives the vehicle a good supply of clean air and prevents poor fuel economy and performance.  A convenient time to have the filter checked or replaced is during oil change appointments.

Save at the pump with these tips from employees:

  • Pump It Up: Under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy and are dangerous as well.  Tires low on air also degrade handling and breaking, wear more rapidly and can overheat and blow. Check manufacturers’ recommendations and make sure tires are inflated to the maximum PSI.
  • Avoid Idling: Idling uses a surprising amount of fuel — more than restarting the engine. If you need to wait in a parked vehicle for more than a minute or two, switch off the engine and only start up again when you’re ready to continue driving.
  • Drive Safely and at Moderate Speeds: Gas mileage often rapidly decreases at speeds over 50 mph due to aerodynamic drag. To save gas, stay at or under the speed limit, and drive at a consistent rate of speed. Use cruise control on long trips. Avoid jackrabbit starts, hard acceleration, sudden breaking and speeding around corners, as they actions increase fuel consumption.
  • Travel Light and Check Light: Added weight in the car creates a drag on the engine and consumes extra gas. Remove unnecessary items from the trunk and back of the vehicle.  Take your car to a repair shop as soon as possible if the “Check Engine” light comes on. This indicates a problem that is causing excessive emissions and likely reducing fuel economy.
  • Travel Efficiently: Warm engines run more efficiently than cold ones. Combining short errands into one trip is a good way to save gas, as well as time.  Whenever possible, travel outside of high-traffic times of the day.  In the short term, consider ride sharing or carpooling to split gas costs among multiple passengers.

Story originally published on WJTV.

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