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Make sure your car is prepared for extended freeway time

July 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With gridlock possible on any Southern California freeway this Carmageddon weekend, you don't want your car to break down in heavy traffic. Here's what to check to make sure you and your car are ready for any type of disaster scenario.

See a live cam shot of the Mulholland Bridge construction site.

You've heard all the warnings to stay away. You've noted the detours. You've learned the shortcuts.

But you still could get stuck in a massive traffic jam if you venture near the closure zone and be in your car much longer that you anticipated.

"We're not telling people to go crazy this weekend. But it's a good idea to be sensible and to have the basics," said Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. "A little bit of water, extra food, maybe a blanket. You never know when you're going to get stuck in your car."

OK, it's probably overkill to go into survival mode for a two-day closure of a single freeway. But the Insurance Information Network of California wants to use this weekend as a reminder that we need to be prepared in our cars for any kind of travel disruption.

A survival kit kept in your car at all times could serve you during a breakdown on a vacation trip or after an earthquake.

"In California, we face a lot of different disasters," said Moraga. "It could be flooding, it could be wildfires, it could be snow on the Grapevine. So you never know where you could be stuck someday or you may have to stay overnight in your car. So it's good to have this in your car, and it's not difficult to do."

And this weekend, with traffic potentially pretty bad in some areas, you really don't want to be the car that breaks down in lanes and makes things worse.

Many people tend to zone out when they get into heavy traffic, and stare at the car ahead or be entertained by the radio. But you really should occasionally glance down at your instrument cluster, paying attention to what the gauges or warning lights might be telling you.

Overheated cars are a problem any time there's heavy traffic in the summer. Make sure yours isn't one of them. Keep an eye out for higher than normal temperatures or a red warning light.

Your engine's hoses and radiator don't last forever, and they can let go if under-hood temperatures rise in traffic.

We tend to forget about maintaining our cars beyond just oil changes. But an engine in iffy condition could let you down at the worst possible time.

Even this weekend.

Get live traffic maps at abc7.com/traffic

Beat Carmageddon with ABC7

The 405 shuts down the weekend of July 16-17, and ABC7 Eyewitness News is your home for the latest traffic news and information. Follow @abc7 and @BeatCarmageddon on Twitter, and use the hash tag #abc7traffic.

ABC7 has also partnered with Waze to help navigate the traffic. Download the Waze app, which provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation based on the live conditions of the road. Join the community of drivers in Southern California today and beat Carmageddon.

Check out the latest Carmageddon coverage from abc7.com


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