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Despite gasoline prices, the old-fashioned auto vacation willonce again be a popular choice for families looking for convenienceand ready mobility. But with warmer weather come special automotivemaintenance challenges – extreme heat, humidity and heavystop-and-go traffic can cause marginal systems to fail.

The experts at the nonprofit National Institute for AutomotiveService Excellence (ASE) offer the following tips on getting yourvehicle ready for your vacation:

* Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended serviceschedules.

* If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for a repairshop with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to yourown, modern equipment in the service bays, and signs of qualifiedautomotive service professionalsas evidenced by trade school diplomas, certificates of advancedcoursework and training classes, and national certification of theindividual technicians by ASE.

* Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according tothe service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition andconcentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. If youare doing your own work, make sure the engine has cooled downbefore removing the radiator cap and make sure you choose theproper coolant for your vehicle make and model.

* Have engine performance problems — hard starts, rough idling,stalling — corrected. You’ll get better gasoline mileage and youmight just prevent more expensive repairs later on. For example,something as simple as a rough idle could indicate an underlyingproblem that could ruin your vehicle’s catalytic converter overtime.

* The tightness and condition of belts, clamps and hoses shouldbe checked by a qualified auto technician. Most do-it-yourselfersdo not have the proper equipment.

* Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced bya qualified technician. The air conditioners on older vehiclesoften contain ozone-depleting chemicals that could be released intothe air through improper or incompetent service.

* Change the oil and oil filter as specified in the owner’smanual. Properly dispose of used oil. Poll after poll oftechnicians indicate that this is one of the most neglectedservices, and one that can greatly reduce the life of yourautomobile.

* Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended inthe service manual.

* Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Let thetires “cool down” before checking their pressure. Uneven wear,”cupping,” vibrations or “pulling” to one side indicate problemswith your tires or suspension system.

* Don’t neglect your transmission. Costly repairs can beprevented by routine service.

* For safety and convenience, inspect all lights and bulbs;replace burned out bulbs. Replace worn wiper blades and keep plentyof washer solvent on hand to fight summer’s dust and insects.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organizationdedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repairthrough the voluntary testing and certification of automotivetechnicians. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulderinsignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) ofcertification. Their employers often display the blue and white ASEsign.

Visit for more information, including seasonal carcare tips.

Courtesy of ARAcontent