Keep your car safe this summer with these 3 tips

Summer and road trips go hand-in-hand for many. The season is synonymous with freedom, the open road and good times spent with even better friends. Whether you plan out your itinerary stop-by-stop or decide that you're just going to hit the pavement and drive, road trippers have to prepare for spending a lot of time in their cars this season. 

With this in mind, it's important to keep your car not just comfortable, but safe as well. There are a number of car-related hazards you may face, both on the road and elsewhere, that you should be aware of before you get going. Here are a few things to keep in mind this summer to keep everyone safe, happy and comfortable on your big trip.

Get your car inspected before heading out on any major road trips.Get your car inspected before heading out on any major road trips.

1. Don't neglect your maintenance
It goes without saying that keeping your car in tip-top shape should be the No. 1 priority for anyone considering a road trip. This isn't just a last-minute process, either – you should be staying on top of your car's maintenance schedule year-round. After all, it's far easier and cheaper to take a preventive approach to car maintenance rather than a reactive one. This is particularly important for used cars that have more miles on them than newer models.

Be sure to hit all the basics: check your oil, have your tires rotated, check your tires' air pressure and stay current with your tune ups. It's also helpful to schedule a performance check-up with your mechanic before your scheduled departure so you can catch any potential issues before they turn into significant problems.

"It takes just three minutes for a car to heat from 78 degrees to over 100 degrees."

2. Stay cool around kids and pets
Sadly, kids and pets still get left in hot cars during the summer months far more often than they should be. This is due largely to people not being aware of how dangerous excessive heat can be for those stuck inside a car. According to Titan Insurance, it takes just three minutes in the sun for a car to heat from 78 degrees to over 100 degrees, which can seriously endanger children and pets alike.

Whether you're running errands around town or hitting the road for a long trip, don't bring along your kids or pets if you can't bring them with you when you arrive at your destination. You can make this easier by frequenting businesses that offer drive-through services rather than making you go inside. Opening your car's back door whenever you park is a good habit to get into, as that ensures you aren't leaving anyone behind. 

3. Stay safe on the road
Extreme summer heat can pose problems for cars that can lead to dangerous situations while driving. For example, your car's interior can heat up even as you drive if it's in direct sunlight. Try to mitigate the excessive heat in your car by parking in the shade or using a removable screen in your windshield when you park to prevent too much sun from beating in. 

In addition to staying cool yourself, it's also important to keep your engine temperature under control. It's easy for a radiator to overheat in the hot sun, which can leave you in a pickle quickly. You should regularly check your car's coolant, as well as its belts, fans and grille, to keep things under the hood as cool as possible. If you notice that any plastic or rubber components have melted or warped due to the heat, replace them immediately before they become a greater problem down the road. 

If you're looking for the perfect used vehicle for your summer road trip, head over to New Jersey State Auto Auction. There are hundreds of Carfax-certified vehicles on the lot and a helpful staff ready to assist you with finding the perfect car for your needs.