Memorial Day kicks off summer travel plans

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Many fun activities are being planned for the Memorial Day weekend, which also marks the beginning of the vacation for both students and adults.

The Suffolk City School System will be closed Monday and resume its regular sessions on Tuesday. Nansemond-Suffolk Academy will also resume its regular session June 1.

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The Suffolk News-Herald business office, the Suffolk City Clerk, City Offices and banks will be closed Monday and resume their regular hours Tuesday. All trash that is usually picked up Monday will be collected the next day and run one day late the remainder of the week.

Sentry Food Marts and Belk and Wal-Mart department stores will operate at their regular hours during the holiday.

All Virginia DMV customer service centers will be closed on Monday and DMV offers the following four self-service options that are available 24 hours a day seven days a week: Internet (; telephone (1-888-337-4782); Mail; and ExtraTeller, an ATM-like machine located outside 32 offices.

Virginia roads are always busy during holiday weekends; therefore, the Division of Motor Vehicles encourages all motorists traveling during the holiday to prevent needless deaths and injuries by driving defensively and wearing safety belts.

Drivers please get plenty of rest, observe speed limits and if you drink, don’t drive.

However, if you do plan to drive and spiraling gas prices have not discouraged you from hitting the road, here are 10 timely tips for from Joe Burrows, &uot;The Car Doctor&uot; at Precision Tune Auto Care in Leesburg, for saving money on gas and for ensuring a trouble-free trip.

(1) Closely inspect your tires. At highway speeds, a blow-out with the vehicle fully loaded could spell disaster. Check for balding, bumps, nails, and proper inflation. Don’t forget your spare tire. Is it inflated? Do you have a jack and all needed tool for changing a tire? Check tires when cool. Tire pressure will change after extended highway speeds.

(2) Have brakes and brake fluid inspected. If fluid is low, do not just top it off. There’s a reason it is low. Check brake pads and shoes for wear.

(3) Visually check all brake lights, turn signals and head lamps – including high beams – to ensure they are working and properly focused.

(4) Have cooling system examined by a trained professional for the following: leaks, sound hoses coolant level and mixture ratio (a 50/50 coolant to water ratio is the most common ratio as recommended by manufacturers); radiator cap (Does it tighten securely? Are seals intact?); cooling fan to make sure it is operating properly (the fan affects both engine cooling and the air conditioner); pH level of coolant (it should be around 9.5 or 10 for green type coolant.)

(5) Make sure your technician checks you’re A/C system for proper Freon level and condition of belts. To help conserve gasoline, use your air conditioner on the road rather than keeping windows down. Open windows create wind drag, straining the engine.

(6) Change engine oil and filters if you haven’t done so in the last three months or 3,000 miles.

(7) Check the condition of the windshield wiper blades and have them changed if they do not provide adequate visibility, and top off the windshield wiper solution (do not use plain water).

(8) Use cruise control to maintain a steady speed and save gas.

(9) Use only the fuel octane recommended for your car. Higher octane gas, which produces less energy, not only costs more, it also yields lower miles per gallon.

(10) Every time you stop for gas, check the oil level and inspect tires, and clean the windshield. Do not check coolant level when engine is hot, except to visually inspect the overflow (or recovery) bottle. If you are just making a quick pit stop for five minutes or less, do not cut the engine; let the car idle for a few minutes.

For added peace of mind, Joel Burrows, &uot;The Car Doctor&uot; and veteran trainer at Precision Tune Auto Care, suggests an engine and emissions analysis to ensure there are no problems and that the engine is running at maximum efficiency which will help to reduce your fuel bill.

For added safety, travel with a cell phone, road map, always drive defensively and always watch out for other vehicles on the highway.

Precision Tune Auto Care has been a pioneer for more than 25 years in advanced diagnostic training and development and is the one stop shop for scheduled maintenance, service and repairs for autos, light trucks, SV’s and Minivans and services over 2.5 million vehicles a year.