Few things can get you as hot under the collar as can getting lost while piloting a car full of your kids, wife and dog on the typical family vacation.

Throw car trouble into the mix, and you have the makings of a serious meltdown.

The unique challenges of hot weather can create dangerous conditions for both the car and its occupants. Each summer, more than seven million cars break down on the road, but experts suggest that most breakdowns could be easily avoided with a little preventive care.

Preventive Care Tip No. 1: Get the basics right.

To keep your car cool before heading out on the road, be sure you check out the basics, including oil, transmission fluid, windshield washer, battery level and strength, tire pressure (including the spare), cooling system, belts and hoses. Have a well-equipped emergency kit and toolbox. Sure, you might be pressed for time before you take off on vacation, but the time you take to check those keys areas is very well spent.

Beyond that, keeping your car ready for the road might be easier than keeping other drivers from getting overheated. A study by Response Insurance on national driving habits has shown that 75 percent of drivers are fearful of encountering road rage, and 37 percent said they had personally experienced it in the previous six months.

A key tip on that score: Do not escalate aggression on the road by responding to it.

Preventive Care Tip No. 2: Stay calm.

At the same time, make sure you’re not in a mood to make an on-road problem worse. Take along moist towelettes and water to refresh yourself, and stop to stretch and relax frequently. A neck massage or a cooling, non-alcoholic beverage might improve your mood as well.

Preventive Care Tip No. 3: Don’t let technology hinder you.

Never try to program the navigation system while driving. Program it before you leave, and avoid all other similar distractions -- like cell phones, radio, etc. -- when on the road.



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How to Prevent Your Car from Overheating