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Quick Car Check Can Help Prevent Summer Breakdowns, AAA Says

19 May 1997

Quick Car Check Can Help Prevent Summer Breakdowns, AAA Says

    ORLANDO, Fla., May 19 -- For the more than 27 million people
vacationing by auto this summer, an ounce of pre-trip preparation can prevent
a pound of on-the-road frustration, according to AAA.
    "Many families have looked forward to summer road trips for months," said
Marshall L. Doney, vice president of AAA Automotive Services, "but without
preparation, many auto vacations will be interrupted by inconvenient and
sometimes dangerous roadside breakdowns."
    To prevent roadside emergencies, AAA recommends motorists check the
following items on their vehicle before hitting the road this summer:

    *  Tires - Check for uneven or excessive tread wear.  Make sure all tires,
including the spare, are inflated properly.
    *  Antifreeze/coolant - Check the coolant level and condition, making
certain the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.
    *  Engine oil - Check the oil level and condition.  If driving under
extreme situations -- such as very hot temperatures or towing a heavy trailer
-- switch to a motor oil with higher viscosity. Check the owner's manual for
specific oil recommendations.
    *  Belts and hoses - With the engine off, look for worn or cracked belts
and worn, cracked, blistered or soft hoses.
    *  Air conditioning system - If needed, have the air conditioning serviced
by a qualified technician, using the refrigerant R-12 in older systems or R-
134A in new or modified air conditioners.  Do not use non-approved substitute
    *  Battery - Hot weather can shorten the life of a car's battery.  Weak or
old batteries should be tested by a qualified technician and replaced if

    If you are not comfortable performing this inspection yourself, a
qualified auto service facility -- such as those recognized by AAA's Approved
Auto Repair program -- can conduct a thorough examination.  A professional
technician also will have the expertise to check brakes, suspension and
emission-control equipment.
    Because even properly maintained vehicles can break down, AAA recommends
carrying an emergency kit containing at least the following items:  flashlight
with extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles,
jumper cables and a first-aid kit.  Additionally, a cellular phone makes it
easy to summon help from AAA or to contact police for emergency assistance.
    It also is important to plan your route and to make lodging reservations
in advance.  AAA can provide assistance with both of these important pre-trip
    AAA is a not-for-profit federation of 99 motor clubs with more than 1,000
offices providing more than 39 million members in the U.S. and Canada with
travel, insurance, financial and auto-related services.  AAA provides
automotive services through a network of more than 37,000 service vehicles and
more than 4,300 Approved Auto Repair facilities

SOURCE American Automobile Association