Family Truckster

In much of the USA, school’s out for the summer and vacation plans are in full swing.

With gas prices still at low levels, Americans are going to be taking to the road for trips both short and long.

That means getting the car in shape for the rigors of travel.

Here are some tips that will make your summer roadtrip a breeze:

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Oil change time.

I usually change my oil twice a year, in the spring and fall, but summer is always a good time to check your oil levels and get some fresh quarts in there for maximum hot weather, long-range engine protection.

And, thanks to an extensive AAA study, we now know that synthetic oil, although more expensive than the old-fashioned stuff, is the best bet.

Evaluate your tires.

Oil changes are always a good excuse to take a close look at your tires. They may be rated for 40,000 miles, but wear can vary, especially if you haven’t rotated them on schedule.

You’re mainly checking out tread wear — a good rule of thumb is that if the tread even seems worn down, to the point where you wonder whether adequate traction will be provided, then zip by your mechanic for a quick evaluation.

And while you’re at it, have your mechanic examine your brakes pads, rotors, and/or drums for an indication that you need to replace some or all of these components.

Lubricants and other fluids don’t want to be neglected.

Your car has other liquids besides oil and wiper fluid that need to be checked out. Transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant — all need an occasional gander.

And don’t neglect the lube. Yep, doors, liftgates, and so on all need a bit of grease to operate smoothly and quietly.

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