As you get ready to take off on your fun summer excursions, don’t let yourself get too carried away. While it’s fun to think about where you’ll be going, the memories you will be making, and all the fun things you plan to buy and come back with, the planning phase is important, too _ especially if you’re going to be taking off in your family’s car. Whether you are making the drive down to the parking lot at the Port of Miami, or you’re just driving to the airport and leaving your car to sit while you go play, there are some things you will need to do before you go. If you are going to let your family’s car sit idle during your cruise, you will want to be sure that you pay special attention to three things; the air pressure in your tires, the condition that your tires are currently in, and your spare tire and tire care kit.

Tire Pressure

When it comes to the air pressure, it is probably the most important part of your car’s health. Not only will it have a direct impact on number of miles you get per gallon, but it will also affect the life span of your tires. If your tires are over pressurized, they will wear a bald spot in the middle of the tire. This can also give you less traction because your point of contact with the road is so small. If your tire is under pressurized, it can wear bald spots on the outer edges of the tire and put you at a greater risk of hydroplaning. In either situation, the improperly pressurized tire will shorten the tire’s life span by exaggerating the wear pattern far too quickly. The only time you may want to over pressurize a little bit, according to Continental, is if you plan on taking that road trip with a car full of luggage and kids. But you will want to be sure to return that tire pressure to normal before letting it sit idle for a while in a Miami parking lot.

Tire Condition

Regardless of what your car will be doing while you’re on vacation, you should check your tires to be sure they do not have any bubbles or dry rot. A bubble happens when the steel on the inside of your tire has become broken and air has leaked into the rubber. The rubber is not as strong as the steel and is not meant to hold the pressurized air. If you have a bubble on your tire, you need to get it replaced as soon as possible. If that tire were to blow while you were driving on the highway, you would be putting your life and the lives of your family members at risk.

If you see dry rot on the sides of your tires (this will look like cracks crawling along the rubber), this is also another sign that you should be looking for a new tire. While not as urgent as bubbling, dry rot is a good indicator that your tire has aged beyond its usefulness. Dry rot occurs as the elements in your environment break down the rubber. If you see this on your tire, it means that your tire is not as structurally sound as it once was. It also means that the chances of a leak or blowing a tire are greater. You definitely don’t want to have to deal with a flat tire or a donut on your vacation. It’s best just to replace it before you leave.

Tire Kit

Before you take off on any big adventure, you want to make sure that, should the unexpected happen, you are prepared. If, even after all of your careful checking, a tire does blow, you want to be able to handle the situation. In the event of a leak or a blown tire, you will need a spare tire or a donut to get you safely to your destination (or a repair shop). Most cars should have a place for at least a donut if not a full spare. When you check the pressure on your other tires, make sure you check the pressure in your spare as well. To change a tire, you will want to make sure you have a car jack, a lug wrench or a tire iron and a lug nut key if you have locking lug nuts. Make sure all of these tools are in your car and functional before you take off to that Miami parking lot for the cruise that’s calling your name.