37 million take to their cars for Memorial Day

Feeling the pinch at the pump as summer travel season kicks off

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Memorial Day begins the summer driving season and this year, 37 million drivers will take to the roads, streets and highways.

It’s the second highest, bested only by pre-recession 2005, when nearly 39 million traveled by car.

The numbers are higher than last year even though gas prices are more than $3 a gallon in many places. Tucson is seeing some of the highest prices in the nation.

That puts a pinch on Vera Watson.

“I live on Social Security,” she said. “So its really bad, bad for me.”

Hailey Albert said she tries to drive less when the prices get to $3 a gallon.

“I try to find the cheapest gas,” she said. “I avoid taking longer trips.”

This holiday can be a real eye opener for people who have neglected their cars, but now want to get out on the highway.

AAA officials say 350,000 motorists will end up with engine problems, flat tires or dead batteries this weekend.

It’s best to take the car to a mechanic or at least do a routine check before filling up the tank and taking off.

“Actually it would take 10 to 15 minutes,” said David Altamirano, a mechanic for Jack Furrier in Marana. “Check the oil, tires, fluids and filters.”

Many people wait until an engine light alerts them to an issue before having it looked at. That’s too late said Altamirano.

“If those lights come on, your low and you need it,” he said. 'You don’t have a choice, you have to bring it in."

Hard to do if stuck along a deserted highway in New Mexico.

Which brings up an often overlooked item, the windshield cleaner reservoir.

Too often a motorists over look it until they got on the highway and find they can’t see very well.

“If there’s a lot of bugs, you can’t see, it’s all smeared,” he said. “You may find a shirt you don’t wear and try to rub it off.”

Best to pull off the roadway first.

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