I love the 4th of July. I especially love Independence Day in a small town, watching a parade full of local marching bands, civic clubs and kids. And, of course, a night capped with apple pie, vanilla ice cream, and lots and lots of loud fireworks.
An estimated 41 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during this 4th of July holiday weekend. If you are hitting the road to celebrate, take a few minutes to check the safety of your car, first. Before any long road trip, it's a good idea to visit your mechanic to make sure your vehicle is trip worthy. Make sure the fluids are topped off, your brakes are in good condition, and your tires are safe and properly inflated. You don't want to get stuck on the road somewhere…or worse.
Here are two other tips to keep in mind.
1. Edit your key ring – GM has now recalled 40% of the vehicles it has sold since 2007 because of a problem with the ignition switch. The recall highlights a hazard – regardless of the car you drive – putting too much stuff on your car key ring. With house keys, office keys, gym cards, and grocery store club cards, our key rings have become more overloaded than George Costanza's exploding wallet.
A too heavy key ring can be dangerous. It pulls down on the ignition cylinder and can damage the internal workings of your ignition. It also presents the risk of catching on your clothes and interfering with your ability to safely control your car.
Keep your car key separate from the rest of your accumulated keys and cards. If that's not possible, consider getting a detachable key ring. That way when you get in the car you can snap off the ignition key and reassemble the set once you park.
2. Check the age of your tires – Even though your tires may have sufficient tread, the age of your tires is very important to their safe operation. Do not drive on tires more than six years old. Make sure to check your spare for this, too.
Figuring out the age of your tires is easy. Every tire made since 2000 is required to have clear markings that tell you what you need to know. The week and year the tire was produced are the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number located on the tire sidewall. The last two digits are the year of manufacture. The two digits immediately preceding are the week of manufacture.
Enjoy a happy and safe holiday.