How to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip

An S-curve road in a lush green environment.

Here are a few steps you should take before hitting the road.

If you’re getting ready to head out on a road trip, there’s plenty to prepare for. Whether you’re planning to drive solo, with a partner or with a few kids in tow, you may find yourself preoccupied with packing, bringing along enough snacks for everyone or planning the perfect road trip playlist. However, don’t forget to make sure your car is ready to make the trip, as well. 

Check your manufacturer’s warranty

While you’re planning your trip, double check your manufacturer’s warranty to make sure it has not expired. If so, then consider purchasing a vehicle service contract to provide protection for covered auto repairs, You don’t want to be on the side of the road 1,000 miles from home when you realize you don’t have coverage.

Give it a once over

In the days leading up to your departure date, make sure you bring your car into a mechanic to have it checked out. While you’re there, be sure to tell the mechanic about your plans, including how far you’ll be driving so he or she can recommend any additional tune-ups you might need, like your brakes, belts and windshield wipers.

Check your tires

Make sure all of your tires - including your spare - are in good condition. This means no bulges, bald spots or tears. Then, make sure they are all properly inflated. It’s a good idea to pick up a tire pressure gauge - they’re available at most convenience stores or gas stations - to keep with you. If your tires are underinflated, you will see your fuel efficiency drop dramatically, while if they’re overinflated, you run the risk of a blowout.

Be prepared

You never know what’s going to happen out on the road, so it’s important to be prepared for anything the trip can throw at you. Aside from packing your own belongings, make sure you bring along a few items that can help you out in a pinch:

  • Extra fluids for your car. It’s always a good idea to keep extra windshield washer fluid with you. If you’re traveling during particularly warm weather, pick up a bottle of coolant, as well.
  • Water and food. You never know when you will find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic or a broken down car, so always have water and snacks on hand.
  • Emergency kit. For the same reason, you’ll want to keep a first aid kit with you, along with a flashlight, blanket and basic tools.