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On the Road: How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip This Summer

There are few more exciting ways to take a vacation than a road trip. You’ll see tons of new sights, experience fascinating new communities, and best of all, make lasting memories with your road trip companions. A road trip can go from exciting to frustrating in seconds, though, if your car decides to give out.

You need to learn how to prepare your car for a road trip before you put the pedal to the metal. Keep reading for a full road trip car checklist.

Check Your Oil & Fluids

First thing’s first, it’s time to check your oil and oil filter.

Regardless of whether you’re road-tripping or not, you should check your oil monthly. Even if you’ve checked it recently, it doesn’t hurt to check the day before you leave. That way you can change the oil out and replace the filter if needed.

While you’re at it, check the rest of your fluid levels. Check your power steering, transmission, brake, and windshield fluid. These are all very important to have on any road trip, and will help keep you prepared for any situation.

Up Your Car’s Safety

Parking your car in unfamiliar lots can be stressful no matter where you are.

What’s worse, your car likely contains a lot of valuables when on a road trip. Before you head out on your road trip, make sure your car is as safe as possible. Make sure your car alarm is working, and consider window tinting.

Check out these LLumar window tint options to boost your car’s safety.

Check Your Tire Pressure

The last thing you want is tire trouble.

If your tires are looking low, fill them to the recommended pressure level. You can find this information in the owner’s manual. Bring your car to a professional to ensure you don’t over or under fill your tires.

Test Your Battery, Brakes, AC

While you’re checking your tires, might as well check out your battery and brakes.

Pop open your hood and make sure the battery is in good condition. Make sure the cables are connected and tight, and the battery isn’t loose. Get a professional to check the battery capacity while you’re at the shop.

Next, test out your brakes. Listen for any grinding, and feel for any vibrations. Have a professional check out your brake fluid, pads, rotors, and all that good stuff.

You might as well test the air conditioner, too. Being stuck in a packed, hot car during a summer road trip is not ideal. If you notice it’s struggling to keep you cool, ask your car professional to check it out.

A professional can check all your hoses and belts, and make sure they’re in good, running shape. 

Prepare an Emergency Kit

You should always keep an emergency kit in your car. If you don’t have one, or yours is running low, it’s time to stock up.

A good emergency kit includes first-aid supplies like bandages, Tylenol, and antiseptic. It should also include water, non-perishables, jumper cables, and emergency flares. You can also pack rain ponchos, a tool kit, paper towels, and duct tape.

You really can’t overstock an emergency kit. You never know what you’ll need when. Take suggestions from your road trip gang and pack what they need.

Clean Your Car

One of the first and most important things to do is clean your car.

The cleaner your car, the more you’ll be able to fit in it, and the comfier your companions will be. Remove any garbage, give your car a good vacuum, and throw an air freshener in there for good measure. Beat out the floor mats and make sure to look in the cracks of the seats!

Once the interior is done, move on to the exterior. Clean all the windows, including the windshield wipers themselves. An unclean windshield wiper will just spread dirt.

Check Your Headlights

It’s illegal to travel with a broken or burnt-out headlight. Always check your headlights before leaving to avoid a ticket.

Test your lights at night to see just how bright they are. Test the brights, and test each blinker. Make sure everything is in perfect working condition, and replace any bulbs that are dim or not working.

Have Cleaning Supplies On-Hand

Aside from an emergency kit, prepare a clean-up kit.

Any road trip involves a decent amount of garbage. You’ll probably stop at a few fast food joints, or pick up a couple souvenirs. You also have to account for spillage of both food and drink.

To combat this, pack some good cleaning supplies. Pack garbage bags, cleaning wipes, and a spare air freshener. You should also bring a rag or two for any spills.

Consider Bringing Gas

It never hurts to have a jerrycan of gas on hand.

One of the worst things that can happen on a road trip is running out of gas. Running out of gas in the wrong spot means you’re stranded without help. As night falls, this can turn into a real horror-movie-type atmosphere.

If you can fit it into your car, bring a jerrycan full of gas. That way you can easily fill up and get back on the road.

Get Vehicle Service

It’s always a good idea to have a plan just in case your car breaks down.

Sign up for AAA or another car service f you haven’t already. That way you can get a discounted tow or repair when you need it. You won’t have to find a local repair or tow shop, meaning you can get back on the road much faster.

Knowing How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

Before you hit the open road, you need to learn how to prepare your car for a road trip. Follow this simple road trip car checklist and you’ll be on the right track. By checking your car maintenance before a road trip, as well as preparing everything you’ll need, you’re ensuring a smooth trip for you and all your travel companions.

For more tips and tricks on all types of cars, check out the rest of our blog.