Get ready for summer with our extensive resources designed to enhance your travel and driving experiences. We offer expert tips for safe summer driving, detailed guides on how to keep your vehicle looking its best, and practical DIY car care advice.

Stay informed with the latest updates on electronic vehicle battery technology and explore our new study revealing consumer concerns about self-driving cars. Our resources are here to help you enjoy a smooth and enjoyable summer on the road.

Summer Travel Prep

Embark on an unforgettable summer adventure with our expert guidance and resources tailored to elevate every aspect of your journey! Explore iconic road trip routes that promise scenic wonders and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Our meticulously curated tourbooks and maps will navigate you through these landscapes with ease, ensuring you don’t miss a single breathtaking sight.

Take advantage of exclusive discounts on road trip essentials and activities, including rental cars, hotels, electronics, and home protection, allowing you to maximize your savings without compromising on quality. Plus, equip yourself with invaluable airport TSA tips to breeze through security checkpoints seamlessly.

Stay Safe With Summer Driving Safety Tips

It’s easy to see why summer is the most popular season for driving. There’s nothing like sitting next to an open car window and letting a mild breeze slip through your hair on the way to your destination. But before the many summer car rides you’re sure to enjoy this year, it’s important to take care of your vehicle and keep safety at the top of your mind. AAA has you covered on both fronts with these summer driving safety tips.

Get Your Car Ready

Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires are a few common reasons for breakdowns. Some of the most important summer driving safety tips highlight car care that can help prevent such problems.

  • Have your vehicle’s air conditioning system checked  at a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility before the start of the season.
  • Batteries have a typical lifespan of about three to five years. Drivers should have their batteries tested at the three-year mark, and on an annual basis going forward. AAA provides members with free battery testing.
  • Keeping your tires in good shape is important because they’re the only parts of your car that touch the ground. Drivers should check each tire’s tread depth, inflation and overall condition at the start of every season. Tire damage can cause blowouts when vehicles are traveling on hot pavement at highway speeds. Tires should be inflated to manufacturer specifications (the number on the driver’s doorjamb, not the number on the tire), and treads should be at least 4/32-inch deep. You can check tread depth with a quarter. Insert the coin with Washington’s head facing down; if you can’t see the top of his head, there’s enough tread.
  • Scorching summer temperatures put serious stress on engines. Have your cooling system flushed on a regular basis and use the manufacturer-recommended coolant. Coolant, also known as antifreeze, has anti-corrosion chemicals to prevent rust buildup inside the engine. Getting rid of old coolant, flushing the engine with fresh water and filling it the proper mixture of the coolant formula and water, along with checking hoses and belts, will help a vehicle stand the test of hot summer driving. Remember to never remove the cap from a hot radiator.
  • Drivers should also check their vehicles’ transmission, power steering and windshield wiper fluids, and make sure all brake lights, headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers and interior lights are working.
  • Getting locked out of your car is never fun, though it’s especially troublesome when all you want to do is escape the heat. Lockouts persist despite advances in key technology. Motorists should take special care of smart keys and keyless entry fobs. Always take these with you when exiting the car, avoid exposing them to water and replace batteries as recommended by vehicle manufacturers. If you do get locked out, AAA Roadside Assistance is available 24/7 to help.

Get Yourself Ready

Summer presents plenty of traffic safety concerns that, if ignored, can turn a dream ride into a nightmare. Motorists should keep these summer driving safety tips at the top of their minds before hitting the road.

  • The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days because it is historically when the country sees an increase of fatal crashes among teenagers. AAA recommends that now is a good time for parents to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them, too.
  • Whether traveling 5 or 500 miles, every driver should carry an emergency kit with important items like a mobile phone charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, drinking water, extra snacks and food, booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, windshield wiper fluid and a basic toolkit with a tire pressure gauge and adjustable wrench.
  • Sun glare can be a serious hazard. A sweet pair of sunglasses will help you look wicked cool, and it’ll help you deal with bright summer sun. Polarized lenses reduce glare. You’ll also benefit from keeping your windshield clean. Dirt and streaks are especially pronounced under strong light.
  • Flip flops are fine for the beach, but they’re not the best footwear for driving. The straps and flimsy soles can easily get caught under the pedals.
  • Tying a surfboard, cooler or a week’s worth of camping supplies to your vehicle’s roof rack? Make sure you review its weight limit first, and check your route for any height restrictions.
  • Avoid distractions. For parents, that can be children in the backseat who are arguing with each other or using mobile devices. For any driver, it can be the temptation to use a cellphone behind the wheel. If you have to make a call or send a text, find a safe place to pull over.
  • Turn on your headlights during twilight hours to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Never leave children or pets in the car unattended. Temperatures inside a vehicle can spike dangerously high in just a few minutes. Even if the outside temperature is 60 degrees, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Avoid eating behind the wheel. Enjoy snacks at rest areas or stop at restaurants for meals.
  • Don’t leave food or drinks inside your car on a hot day, especially canned beverages, which can explode under high temperatures. The same goes for hairspray or canned deodorant.
  • When packing, distribute weight evenly in and atop your vehicle. Don’t pack items in any spot that obstructs your view, or your mirrors.

Road Trips

Some drivers embarking on long road trips are tempted to make the best time possible, but getting to your destination quickly is never worth jeopardizing safety. Crash risks for sleep-deprived drivers increase steadily compared to those who get seven or more hours of sleep. Missing just two to three hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can quadruple a driver’s crash risk, and drivers who have slept fewer than five hours have crash risks comparable to drunken drivers.

Here are some summer driving safety tips to stay alert and safe behind the wheel.

  • One of the best ways to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough sleep. More than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experience no symptoms before falling asleep.
  • Drivers who start to experience drowsiness should find a safe place to pull over and rest. Symptoms include having trouble keeping your eyes open, drifting between lanes, not being able to remember the last few miles, yawning, missing exits or street signs and feeling irritable or restless.
  • On longer drives, stop every couple of hours for a break.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of driving at night, when your body is accustomed to rest.
  • Avoid eating heavy foods.
  • Travel with alert passengers and take turns driving. When it’s not your turn, Paul recommends sitting in the backseat because many front seat passengers become passive drivers, inhibiting their ability to get valuable rest.
  • Know your route. Today, most drivers rely on GPS to provide directions and traffic information. Like any technology, however, you should be prepared in case your device loses its signal or malfunctions. Researching your route before you leave and carrying a physical road map are two critically important summer driving tips.

Share the Road

You’re not the only one enjoying the road this summer. Cyclists and motorcycle riders will be out and about, as will children on summer break. Stay alert to keep everyone around you safe.

  • Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. That includes riding in traffic lanes.
  • Watch for kids near obvious places, like playgrounds, but also keep an eye out for kids flocking to ice cream trucks or chasing stray balls.
  • When you’re driving next to a motorcycle, it helps to envision the body of a vehicle around it, Paul said. That’ll help you maintain a safe traveling distance.

How to Wash and Detail Your Car

By Kimberly Olson


There’s a basic car wash, and then there’s an ultra-thorough car detail. The former usually entails a soapy scrub of the exterior and quick vacuum of the interior, whereas a detail requires all that and much more—think carpet shampooing, crevice cleaning, and waxing. Spoiler alert: The extra work requires more of your time and effort, but when it’s done, you’ll have a looks-like-new ride to show for it.

But detailing your car isn’t just for looks. Regular details can also rid your car’s interior of icky pathogens and help maintain the quality of the exterior, potentially boosting its resale value.

What You Need to Detail Your Car

Gather the right supplies for the best results.

  • Car wash soap. To be gentle on the planet, choose a non-toxic, plant-based product that doesn’t contain phosphates, chlorine, or petroleum-based ingredients.
  • A soft, natural sponge or lamb’s-wool mitt to suds up your vehicle.
  • Bug and tar remover and a nonabrasive cloth to remove deposits on your wheel wells and elsewhere. Buy a non-toxic commercial product or create your own by searching recipes online.
  • Microfiber or chamois towels to dry and wax your car.
  • Liquid or paste wax.
  • Window cleaner or, for a DIY option, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Non-toxic car interior cleaner. Avoid using dish soap and other household cleaners, which can damage interior surfaces and strip the exterior’s protective wax. Make a cleaner yourself by mixing equal parts vinegar and linseed oil.
  • A cloth to wipe-down interior surfaces.
  • Small brushes, such as a toothbrush or paint brush, for cleaning crevices.
  • Surface protector with essential oils for vinyl or leather surfaces.
  • A vacuum cleaner with various attachments for getting into little nooks.
  • Carpet cleaner.

How to Wash Your Car's Exterior

When washing your car’s exterior, location matters. Opting to suds up and hose down your car in your driveway can cause detergents, oil, grease, heavy metals, and other toxins to flow into the nearest storm drain—and from there, into local lakes and streams, potentially harming fish and aquatic plant life. Your city may even prohibit home car washes to protect waterways or conserve water. Check with your local water department before you wash.

Instead of the driveway, consider a nearby self-serve car wash, which reuse water several times before diverting run-off to a sewer system for proper treatment. For a proper hand-wash, here’s what to do:

Wash the wheels
Spray a cloth with bug and tar remover to remove any grit. Once the grit is gone, wash with mild soap or a wheel cleaner, and rinse. (Note: Tire dressings promise a pretty shine but may make it harder for your tires to grip the road, and according to Consumer Reports, may not be that useful when it comes to protecting your tires. Do your research before choosing and applying a tire shine product.)
Wash the body
Tackle your car’s body with a product designed for automotive paint. Use a fresh sponge and bucket—not the ones you used on your wheels—to avoid transferring grime, and wash from the top down. If you drop your sponge, rinse it thoroughly to remove any dirt that might scratch the paint.

While your car is wet, run your hand along the body. Does it feel rough? If so, pollutants such as dirt particles, brake dust, and industrial fallout have accumulated, which can degrade the surface. To remove the grit without leaving a scratch, buy a clay bar kit for $20 to $25. Cover the area you plan to tackle first with a lubricating spray (sometimes included in the kit) and rub the bar along the body, including glass and chrome parts, to remove stuck-on debris. Follow your kit’s instructions for best results. Rinse and use a chamois to dry.

How to Clean and Detail Inside Your Car

Declutter as much as possible, and remove any remaining items and debris. Don’t forget to check crannies for things like pens and loose change.

Grab a cloth and wipe down the dashboard, console, door panels, and other surfaces. Avoid products with petroleum and silicones that can dry out the interior surfaces, warns Devon Davidson of MARS of Billings, a detailing provider that also teaches people to care for their vehicles. Also, skip anything that contains ammonia, which can bleach plastic.

Next, vacuum carpets, upholstery, and floor mats. Use the crevice attachment to get those hard-to-reach places. Then, spray carpets and seats with a foaming carpet and upholstery cleaner, which can be vacuumed after drying. Don’t shy from testing out various vacuum attachments to get the best suction.

Need an even deeper clean? Rent a steam cleaner from your local grocery or hardware store.  And if you have leather seats, consider a high-quality conditioner.

Finally, open your car doors to wash the jambs with soapy water, using a brush to remove tough stains. Clean the insides of the windows with a glass cleaner.

Do It Yourself “DIY” Car Care

Some services require the attention and tools of a highly skilled technician. But SOME tasks are easy enough that you can do it yourself, even if you’re a newbie! Keeping the vehicle clean on the outside is just as important as keeping it clean under the hood. You can do a few things regularly that will help how well your car works during the time between maintenance. Learning easy car care maintenance is simple and we’ve even broken into easy steps with videos so this phase of “adulting” doesn’t seem so hard.

The Latest on EV Battery Technology

Content provided by AAA’s Discounts & Rewards Partner: NAPA Auto Parts

There is no denying that electric vehicles are now a part of modern transportation. It wasn’t long ago that an electric car on the road was somewhat of an anomaly or a curiosity. Now sitting at a red light, you are likely to have an electric city bus, a Tesla and a couple of hybrid vehicles surrounding you. Part of the increased adoption of electric propulsion has come from EV car battery technology breakthroughs. Electric car battery technology has evolved rapidly in the past several years. Let’s discuss advances in EV battery technology, and look at the roadmap for where emerging tech and EV battery power is taking the industry.

Old-School EV Battery Technology

Early EV battery designs were little more than banks of lead-acid batteries, much like what you would find on a golf cart. Lead-acid batteries are relatively cheap and tough, so they work well in a car. There’s a reason why almost every vehicle on the road has a lead-acid battery under the hood for starting — dependability. Many pure electric vehicles even have a 12-volt lead-acid battery as a power source, apart from the main drive battery. The downside is that lead-acid batteries weigh a lot. That’s okay if you only need one, but if you need a whole stack of them, the weight penalty adds up quickly. For example, the 1997 Chevrolet S-10 Electric battery pack weighed 1,400 pounds!

Early fully-electric vehicles, such as the RAV4 EV, and hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape, used NiMH (nickel–metal hydride) batteries. NiMH can handle a lot of charge/discharge cycles before they start to degrade. They offer excellent power output, but have a tendency to lose charge as time passes when not in use. NiMH batteries also don’t like extreme temperatures. NiMH is still popular for hybrid vehicles, but pure electric vehicles have mostly moved on to newer battery technology.

Current Battery Technology

Today, most electric vehicles use some form of lithium-ion battery for the main drive system. Yes, the same kind of battery found in your laptop or cordless drill can also get you from Point A to Point B. Lithium-ion batteries charge quickly and offer high-energy density, which is important when trying to cram a battery pack into a vehicle. They also weigh a lot less than a comparable lead-acid battery.

Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries don’t like extreme temperatures. Extreme cold slows down charging time, while extreme heat degrades the battery itself. Vehicles like the Nissan LEAF had dense battery packs with no ability to regulate temperatures, while Tesla vehicles use a liquid temperature-controlled battery pack. By using liquid to cool or warm a battery pack, it can remain at the optimum operating temperature. This is why you might notice an electric vehicle with a radiator in the parking lot, which cools the battery the same way it does an internal combustion engine.

Another problem with lithium-ion batteries is what to do with them once they are no longer able to hold a charge. Recycling is difficult at this time, but not impossible. Materials inside the battery also have a nasty tendency to catch fire when exposed to water, making disassembly a touchy procedure. Traditionally, recycled lead-acid batteries are shredded to separate their components, but lithium-ion batteries require a gentler touch to reclaim their ingredients. One potential recycling method uses a shredder submerged in a special liquid that prevents the possibility of fire.

The Future of Battery Technology

Automakers are busy looking for the right combination of compounds for the next big break in EV batteries. Right now, there are two main contenders to power the next generation of electric vehicles.
Solid State Batteries
Many automakers are working on a new kind of battery, called a solid-state-battery, which doesn’t use any sort of liquid electrolyte. Theoretically, a solid-state battery would have excellent energy density, thus giving better driving range with less space and weight in a vehicle. With a solid-state battery onboard, the electric vehicle range could hit 500+ miles on a single charge, with recharging  from home taking as little as 10 minutes.

With that kind of potential, it is no wonder automakers are throwing resources at solid-state battery development. Recently, Hyundai filed a patent for a solid-state battery design that applies constant pressure to each battery cell. Volkswagen is also chasing a solid-state battery solution with several partners in the battery technology space. Additionally, Toyota is working on a solid-state battery design with hopes for bringing solid-state EV batteries to their fleet by 2027.

Sodium-Ion Batteries
While not exactly the newest EV battery technology around, sodium-ion batteries may have their day soon. Chinese automaker BYD recently broke ground on a sodium-ion battery plant in Xuzhou, China. Sodium-ion batteries are cheaper to manufacture, but less energy dense than lithium-ion batteries. While currently not ideal for long-range cruising, they are perfect for small city vehicles with plenty of access to charging infrastructure. Automaker Stellantis also recently invested in Tiamat, a French company working on building sodium-ion batteries. The case for integrating sodium-ion battery-powered vehicles into the automotive industry will likely depend on the local market where they are driven.

Battery Life Matters

Extending EV battery life is a hot topic among electric vehicle owners and prospective shoppers. Answering “How long do electric car batteries last?” depends on the battery type and how it is charged/discharged. EV battery replacement is possible, but not always a straight-forward process. Changing an EV or hybrid battery requires special training and tools due to the high voltages involved.

Right now, replacing an EV battery can cost more than the vehicle is worth, much in the same way a blown engine can make it cost prohibitive to repair a car. But there are companies remanufacturing hybrid battery packs, so it isn’t too far-fetched. In fact, you can order a remanufactured hybrid battery pack from your local NAPA Auto Parts store or NAPAonline.

Fear of Self-Driving Cars Persists

A new survey from AAA shows that American drivers either express fear (66%) or uncertainty (25%) about fully self-driving vehicles – a fear that has not decreased since spiking last year.

However, interest in semi-autonomous technologies such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assistance and Adaptive Cruise Control remains high.

“Consumers continue to be wary of autonomous vehicles. Given the numerous and well-publicized incidents involving current vehicle technologies, it’s not surprising that people have concerns about the safety of these technologies,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.