– McClatchy News Service

Drive, drag, dash, motor, start, run, race, roll, fire it up, lean on it, on your mark, get set, go. Vacation driving is upon us. Here are some tips from such sources as Consumer Reports, Edmunds and AAA to help ensure that your next road trip is one you’ll always remember, rather than one you’ll want to forget.


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

n 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.

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

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

n Tidy up: Because you’ll be spending a lot of time in your ride, clean the interior before you leave.

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


n 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.

n Lock it down: Loose items should be secured. Remove loose items from the rear parcel shelf so they don’t hit passengers in a panic stop.

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

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

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

n A heavy load: Make sure the combined weight of passengers and cargo doesn’t exceed your vehicle’s maximum load capacity. Overloading can lead to a serious accident. The cap is listed in your owner’s manual.


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

n 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 his or her phone number, along with any prescriptions.

n Just in case: Have your mate carry a spare set of vehicle keys.

n And, of course: You are taking a mobile phone with car charger, right?

n Be prepared: A breakdown, flat tire or other inconvenience can occur at any time. Pre-assembled emergency and first aid kits are available at auto parts stores, but you might want to augment them.

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

n 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.