10 Things To Check Before A Road Trip

There's more to planning a road trip than mapping out your route. Make sure your car is in tip-top shape to avoid any on-road issues.

Your latest upcoming road trip is the time for the pursuit of an ultimate freedom on the highway, but while you’re still anchored at home there are still a couple of things to think about. And making those provisions is really just another way to make sure you can enjoy your freedom to the ultimate degree when you do hit the road. But before that, it’s only wise to check up on your car’s health. Otherwise, your road trip may be less of an adventure and more of consequences coming to meet you inevitably. Would you rather see a whole lot of some unfamiliar mechanic or the incredible landscape? Exactly. Time to make preparations.

10. Tire Pressure

A kick most likely isn’t going to be enough. Check your tire pressure before you happen to hear a very strange, clunking noise on the highway. Even if you’ve got the spare tire and the know-how to change it, that’s a serious bummer of a roadblock. Quite literally. It’s so easily preventable too--inserting air into your tire only costs a few quarters at your nearest gas station. At most, you’ll need a patch, but that prevents way more costly issues. Make sure to check your tire’s pressure when it’s cold--that means not immediately after tearing up the highway.

9. Spare Tire

If you didn’t do the step mentioned above, this one might creep up to bite you when you least expect it. Driving on a spare isn’t anyone’s ideal situation and you won’t be able to reach those optimal speeds you dream of, but that spare's existence is the difference between trudging into a small town looking for help and being totally stranded, waiting on some other driver to help you out. Sure, cell phones are a huge miracle in this case but you never know when the reception will give out. Or, for that matter, your tire. So, prepare for the worst now.

8. Jumper Cables

No one wants to be dependent on the kindness (or preparedness) of strangers. So, don’t wait around for someone else to have your solution for you--double check your trunk has a set of jumper cables in it. Maybe you’ll end up being the good Samaritan and maybe, just maybe, your car will end up being the one in need. The vague memory of a set doesn’t suffice--make sure and check. Just to be extra sure. No matter what, those cables are absolutely worth the small amount of space they take up in your trunk, even if it means excluding the extra neck pillow.

7. License & Registration

No one heads out onto the open road in hopes of ending up in a collision or answering a police officer’s questions. That said, you never know what will happen, especially if you’re on an unfamiliar road. It’s much better to be prepared than not. Worst case scenario, this check turns into a trip to the DMV. No one likes that but it’s better than the alternative. Things will be a lot more difficult when your hunch of where your registration is turns out to be wrong, so just double check. All you’re doing is saving yourself a potential headache during your own vacation. Isn’t that a win-win?

6. Proof Of Insurance

It’s legitimately so much easier to make sure this little bit of paper hasn’t expired when you’re alone in your garage. Take the extra minute to peep at your insurance… and not under the judgmental gaze of a driver on the end of a collision. Or, in the vicinity of a Highway Patroller. Just do it and you’ll enjoy your trip so much more. Even the most well-prepared, the Boy Scouts, of drivers only benefit from double checking. How do you know you’re really prepared if you haven’t made sure?

5. Coolant Levels

While you’re still home and near your garage full of supplies, open up the hood and take the few seconds it requires to make sure your coolant levels are right. No one enjoys a road trip sans air conditioning when you’re crossing through that gorgeous desert. Even if you don’t plan on traveling through an arid area, no one wants to pull over because their engine is suddenly smoking. While you’re making preparations, just crack the hood open and take a peek. It’s definitely worth taking the time. It’s another precaution that will only make you enjoy your trip more, and you won’t have to worry about visiting some out-of-state mechanic.

4. Manufacturer Recalls

Preventing an issue is so much easier than having to fix an issue. You may think your car is running just fine, but again, the biggest issues that arise are the ones we don’t foresee. So, even if your car has been running fine, it’s absolutely worth a precursory internet search to make sure nothing about your car has changed while you weren’t looking. At the very least, you’ll learn a little bit more about your beloved car while searching forums frequented by equally passionate car owners and at most, you’ll prevent a huge issue.

3. Oil Change

An oil change should be so easy and yet, it can easily get complex and pricy (especially when you happen to own an exotic or luxury car). It’s just better to hit the road with a fresh oil change than to realize you’re in the zone of possibly needing one while away from home. And who doesn’t prefer their home mechanic to an away one? You’ll save money, most likely, since you’re going to someone who you know you can trust in the quality and price of their services. Whether you’re getting into the area where an oil change is necessary or if the mileage of your expected trip will hit that, get it done.

2. Emergency Kit

Not everything that has to do with your car being prepared for an interstate getaway has to do with the actual vehicle’s health (although much of it is, so have those bases covered as well). There’s always the outside chance you’ll get a cut that needs tending to or require flares to make an emergency situation that much navigable. These are things that are absolutely affordable before encountering an issue and are invaluable once you’re in the thick of it. Maybe it’s an extra few doses of the medication you take or a piece of equipment--don’t leave home without it.

1. Snacks

Okay, this tip has nothing to do with your car’s health and everything to do with yours. The difference between a passable road trip and a terrific one has everything to do with the company, the playlist and the snacks. What’s an easy to eat treat that you absolutely love? What about what your shotgun rider prefers? Any dietary considerations? How many napkins are going to be needed (not that anyone should be packing buffalo wings on a road trip)? The best-stocked road trips have up front snacks and a backseat cooler--it’s so worth it for your future cravings.

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