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Prepare your vehicle for holiday travel

Posted at 6:37 AM, Nov 21, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Millions of drivers are expected to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday. The American Automobile Association says now is the time to prepare your vehicle before your trip.

According to AAA, they expect to receive more than 368,000 calls in the U.S. for roadside assistance around Thanksgiving. The three most common calls will be from drivers with flat tires, dead batteries and/or lock outs.

The best way to avoid car trouble is to have it professionally inspected, but there are also simple ways you can make sure you are in good shape before your trip.

AAA offers the following tips before you hit the road:

  • Check your tire pressure and tread. Inspect all four tires and the spare (if you have one). Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Check the tire tread by inserting a quarter upside down between the tread. If you can still see the top of George Washington's head, you need new tires. Check tire pressure before driving. Inflate to the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Listen to and feel the brakes. If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, get them professionally inspected. If a repair or replacement is needed, use the Repair Cost Estimator to help anticipate costs.
  • Secure and test the battery. Have a service professional check your battery to determine the remaining capacity. Ensure the cable connections are clean and tight, and the hardware is secure.
  • Top off engine oil and other fluids. Ensure engine oil, coolant and brake transmission, and power steering fluids are all at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation.
  • Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner fluid. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, it's time for new blades.
  • Check belts and hoses. Replace belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed. As a general rule, drive belts should be replaced every 60,000 miles. Also radiator hoses should not leak or be worn, brittle, or excessively soft.
  • Replenish emergency kit supplies. Kits should include a cell phone charger, car battery booster cables, flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, emergency flares or reflectors, rain poncho, basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.

In the U.S., 49.3 million travelers will hit the road for Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8 percent more than last year. In Florida, 2.6 million people are forecast to drive during for Thanksgiving.