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Contact: Kevin Markham | [email protected] | 313.805.2024

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  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows Americans drive more than 600 billion miles on average during summer driving season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day
  • Spending extra time before a trip to inspect your vehicle and prepare for unexpected travel conditions is good insurance against breakdowns and incidents
  • Ford pre-travel checklist: Vehicle fluids and periodic maintenance schedules; tire conditions and inflation pressures; windshield wipers and lighting; and route planning


As the summer driving season begins and Americans gear up to hit the road, packing the right clothes and adding music to the MP3 player is foremost on many minds. But how many travelers consider the condition of their cars when planning a trip? Whether heading out to a local lake or prepping for a cross-country expedition, these tips from Ford will help you focus on your vehicle now so you won’t have to worry about it along the way.


The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that more than three-quarters of summer road trips cover a distance of 50 to 249 miles each way. That means most drivers are at least an hour or more from home – and their local mechanic or dealership – making proper preparation of the family car all the more important. While getting stranded in the summer doesn’t pose the same risks inherent in winter travel, drivers can minimize the hassle and inconvenience of a breakdown and the chance of an accident with a few simple prep steps before setting out.

Check all fluids
Just as with people, fluids are critical for vehicles when the heat is on. Check your owner’s guide for the proper procedures to verify the following:

  • Engine oil, including scheduling an oil change if it’s time   
  • Coolant level
  • Automatic transmission fluid (where applicable)
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid 

Tires are your safety cushion
When you consider that tires are all that separates your car from the road, it’s essential you inspect your tires to ensure they’re going to make the journey safely.

  • Examine the tread for excessive or uneven wear and deep gouges, and check sidewalls for bulging or cracking  
  • Check and adjust tire pressures using the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, not the maximum pressure listed on the tire sidewall. Manufacturer pressure recommendations are usually shown on a sticker affixed to the driver’s door and printed in the owner’s guide
  • Don’t forget to check the condition and inflation pressure of the spare tire 

Visibility aids safety
Most people recognize that a good view out the windshield and windows is essential to safe driving. But how long has it been since you checked your brake lights, directional signals and headlights for proper operation?

  • Check wiper operation and blade condition, replacing any blades that don’t clean the windshield on the first pass  
  • With a helper, check operation of the brake lights (including the center high-mount brake light) and reverse lights
  • Check operation of headlights (high and low beams), all directional signals and taillights

Plan your route and be aware of conditions
Regardless of whether you have a set destination – and route – in mind, or you’re seeing where the road takes you, a little knowledge of the route and conditions you might encounter can go a long way toward ensuring a safe and pleasant journey.

  • Whether you’re using a portable GPS system or a built-in navigation aid like Ford SYNC® with Traffic, Directions & Information, make sure you have destination addresses and any cables/plugs/connectors needed to set up the unit  
  • Be aware of changing weather and climate on long trips: Plains states can experience rapid severe thunderstorm development, while travelers crossing desert terrain should bring emergency water for passengers in case of a breakdown

One final note: If you’re bringing a pet along for the ride, never leave it unattended in the vehicle. In many states it’s illegal, and even seemingly mild temperatures can rapidly create a lethal environment inside a car – even with the windows cracked.


“Today more than ever, with vehicle quality soaring, it’s easy to forget that tires wear, bulbs burn out and washer fluid needs replenishment. Motorists preparing for vacation can save a lot of time and trouble by taking a few moments to inspect their vehicles before they ever leave the driveway. You don’t have to be a mechanic – the owner’s guide will tell you everything you need to know.”

– Kevin Markham, Ford Global Driver Safety, Dearborn Development Center

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010, and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit

June 4, 2010

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