Summertime means road trips for millions of Americans. Before heading out on that 8 hour drive, you should check your vehicle to ensure it will make the trip. Here is a quick road trip checklist of what to do or look for on your car before a lengthy trip:
Road trip checklist #1 Check the tires for wear.
Do they look worn out? After you’ve been driving for two decades, you’ve seen your fair share of bald tires. Still not sure if they are up to speed? Do the penny test. Take the coin and put it in one of the gaps between the treads with Lincoln’s head down. If you can see the top of his head, you need new tires.
Road trip checklist #2 Get an oil change.
You should be doing this anyway in order to maintain your car properly, but if for whatever reason, you just haven’t gotten around to it lately and it’s time, get that oil and filter changed out.
Road trip checklist #3 Check all fluids & belts.
While you have your car in the shop for an oil change or new tires, you might as well have them check all of the fluids and belts. If your car is fairly new, the belts shouldn’t be a problem. If, like me, you have a car over 10 years old, it can’t hurt to have the belts checked and replaced if necessary. Again, this is just part of your regular car maintenance, but if you’ve been putting it off, better to get it done before you leave than be stranded on Interstate Nowhere in the middle of a thunderstorm and have your vacation ruined.
Road trip checklist #4 Check all of the lights & brakes.
Is that one headlight burnt out? How about your turn signals, back up lights, and brake lights? Again, if your car is newer, your brakes are probably OK, but if not, it can’t hurt to have them checked out to see how much wear has happened and if they are safe.
Road trip checklist #5 Get an emergency road kit.
Even if you make all of the suggested preparations, things could still go awry, so be prepared. If you live in a part of the country where the weather gets awful in the winter, you probably have one of these, but be sure it’s in your car for the trip. You might be stranded on a dark road and need a flare or two to make sure other drivers see you. Things included in the kit, aside from flares or reflective triangles are a first aid kit, jumper cables, electrical tape, flashlight, and some basic tools.
Bonus road trip ready hint: Get paper maps.
Cell service isn’t available in every single corner of the country, shocking I know, so if you find yourself lost on some country road without access to a GPS or mobile phone, an old fashioned paper map can save your butt. If you are a member of AAA you can get maps for free at any of their retail locations.