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Consumer Alert: Summer driving tips

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is encouraging consumers to be well-prepared before setting out on summer trips, whether by air or by automobile. Accordingly, McDaniel has issued a consumer alert with advice for safe and hassle-free vehicle and airline travel.

“Consumers who plan ahead can take some of the stress out of travel this summer,” McDaniel said. “Making sure that the car is in tip-top condition before setting out on a road trip and knowing how to manage flight delays or other air-travel nuisances should help travelers avoid many hassles.”

What driver should know

Fluids need to be checked before any long trip. Brake and transmission fluid levels should be normal.

Oil needs to be clean on the dipstick and at a sufficient level. Check the owner’s manual to see whether it’s time for an oil change.

It’s better to replace a battery (summer heat decreases battery life) or fix cracked hoses or leaks before embarking on a long trip.

Dirty air filters can decrease engine performance and reduce gas mileage. Change the air filter if necessary.

Properly inflated tires can increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by up to 3 percent. And all that junk in the trunk? For every 100 pounds of it removed, fuel efficiency increases by 2 percent.

Got a penny? Use it to check whether tire tread is too worn by placing the penny vertically into the gaps of the tires with Lincoln’s head pointed downward. If Lincoln’s head is fully visible, tires need to be replaced.

What air travelers should know

Many airlines charge additional fees for checking luggage, for preferred seats or for cancelling or rebooking flights. Sometimes those charges aren’t apparent until after flights are booked.

When flights are overbooked, airlines must offer compensation to passengers willing to give up their seats in exchange for a later flight. In the event of a flight delay or cancellation, asking the original carrier to “endorse” a ticket to another airline may save on time and money, though airlines are not required to do so.

Travelers can usually save money and face less-crowded airports by flying on Saturdays, during the middle of the week or at off-peak hours.

Visit www.tsa.gov before packing. Items like razors, other sharp objects and large bottles of liquid are prohibited in carry-on bags.

To get the best deals, plan for a trip early since discounted tickets often sell quickly. Also, consider alternate airports, which may have better prices; or flights with connections, which may be less expensive than nonstop flights.

For more information about safe summer travel, or other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Division hotline at (800) 482-8982.

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