DENVER (KDVR) — Thursday is expected to be the busiest day on the roads this year for motorists, according to AAA.

In fact, AAA says 250,000 more Coloradans will be driving this holiday season, compared to last year.

With so many drivers on Colorado’s roadways these next few days, safety is key.

Which is why auto experts want to make sure you’re prepared for your trip.

Because last year, most folks stayed home for the holidays — and who knows what sort of maintenance they’ve done to their vehicles since then.

So here’s your Holiday Car Care Checklist from local car care experts:

  • Cooling Systems – Car engines can overheat after spending several hours on the interstate while driving at high speeds.  It is important to make sure you have the proper type of engine coolant, which is a 50/50 coolant and water mixture and it is filled to the correct levels.
  • Battery – Car batteries can deteriorate quickly and without much warning.  Between extended engine use, air conditioning, radio, GPS and other passenger electronics, a long trip can contribute to draining a car’s battery.  Most batteries have a 4-5 year lifespan and it is important to test the battery prior to making a long trip.
  • Tires – Car owners should monitor the proper air pressure and amount of tread on each tire and have them properly aligned and balanced.  The air in the tires contracts when the weather gets colder, so owners will want to make sure tires are not under-inflated.
  • Suspension system– We often load up the car with a family of passengers, luggage and personal items when making a long car trip.  The additional weight on the vehicle causes a strain on the suspension system, which includes the springs, shock absorbers and struts.  Worn suspension components may reduce the stability of the vehicle and reduce driver control, as well as accelerate wear on other suspension system components.
  • Air filter – A car’s air filter should be changed each year or every 15,000 miles.  This gives the vehicle a good supply of clean air and prevents poor fuel economy and performance.  A convenient time to have the filter checked or replaced is during oil change appointments.

Taking care of some of this maintenance can also help save you money on your holiday road trip.

“The tires first, you’re idling – don’t waste gas. Idle for a minute or two and then turn the car off and turn it back on. I showed you the air filter we just changed out yesterday on a car, it has to breathe and that’s critical to gas mileage and power. So you have several things working against you there,” explained Al Pridemore, owner of Mr. Transmission in Parker.

It’s also important for drivers to keep an eye on fellow motorists.

A new report from WhistleOut.com shows Colorado ranks #19 for distracted driving.

According to CDOT, an average of 42 crashes happen each day in our state due to distracted driving.