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Travel Safety Checklist Can Help You Avoid Trouble This Summer

No one wants to spend a vacation stranded along side of the highway; a little preventive maintenance can help you avoid a breakdown. These tips from AutoZone can help make sure your next trip is a safe one.

Inspect or replace your brakes

Few things on your car are more important to your safety than the brakes. Put off a brake job too long and it could cost you a new set of rotors -- or worse, lead to an accident. That's why it's important to inspect or replace all brake system components on a regular basis.

Changing your brake pads is a simple procedure, and inspecting your brakes is even easier. Your local AutoZone parts professional can show you how, or point you toward a reputable repair shop for help.

When you replace your brake pads, remember to replace your brake hardware at the same time; it's an inexpensive way to make sure your pads will stop your car as safely and quietly as possible. Don't forget to top off your brake fluid, too.

Inspect or replace your shocks

Although a new set of shocks or struts can do wonders for your ride comfort, their more important function is ride control. A car with worn shocks simply won't handle or stop like it should. In fact, worn shocks or struts could increase your car's braking distance by 20 feet or more, and even cause premature tire wear.

The first step of a shock inspection is to simply look under the car and examine your shocks to see that they're not bent, broken, or leaking oil. Also, check for split lubricant boots and seals and torn rubber grommets at the mounting points. If any of these problems are present, replace the parts at once.

Your car's shocks and struts are similar to the brakes, in that they work together and wear out together. It's always a good idea to play it safe and replace shocks and struts as a set. Don't forget about AutoZone's free Loan- A-Tool(R) Service, where you can borrow from more than 60 different specialty tools, including tools designed to help make a brake job or shock and strut replacement easier.

Inspect your tires

All tires should be properly inflated, including the spare. Refer to your vehicle's manual or the sidewall of your tire for the proper pressure level. Properly inflated tires increase gas mileage, lengthen tire life, and are less susceptible to blowouts.

Tune up your car

Squeezing more mileage from every tank of gas is never more important than before a long trip. What's more, tuning up your car could save you hundreds of dollars a year in gas! One of the easiest ways to improve your fuel economy and performance is to replace worn out spark plugs, spark plug wires,oxygen sensors, and air filter. Ask an AutoZoner for the specific maintenance intervals for your vehicle.

Carry an emergency kit

Even the best maintained cars could be subject to breakdowns. Make sure you're prepared with a cell phone, a container of water, a flashlight with extra batteries, flares or safety triangles, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit.