If you’re feeling the need for speed and the exciting sights of the open road, plan a road trip. But before you start heading for the horizon, be sure your car is up for the job. If it’s been a while since your last journey, so here are a few tips for getting your car ready for travel. A well-maintained car is a happy car, and a happy car will help you arrive at your destination on time and in one piece.
Keep It Clean
One of the easiest and best things you can do for your car is to keep it clean. A regular trip to the drive-through car wash is fine, but it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally spend a bit more on a wash with detailing—and definitely before you go on your trip. Keeping the car clean doesn’t just keep it looking good; it helps it run better. A good wash, inside and out and under the hood, keeps all the parts clean and running smoothly and can even cut down on wind resistance, which can lead to better gas mileage.
Bring It in for a Check-Up
Periodic check-ups and maintenance should already be on your calendar to keep your car running, so make a point of bringing it in before you leave. Ask for an all-points inspection to see if the car is operating at optimal levels. Request that the tires be inspected for damage or any factors that could lead to a blowout or flat tire be inspected. Have them all inflated to proper PSI levels and rotated to maintain even wear and tear. Have your oil changed and your filter replaced—bad oil means bad performance from your car and eventually a complete breakdown. Have all the other fluids topped off and take note of any repairs that must be made.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Every car should have a roadside emergency kit if, heaven forbid, the worst happens. Roadside emergency kits are available for order online and at most automobile and general stores, but you can get your own kit together easily. Find a medium bag that will fit in the trunk or in the back of your car. You’ll need jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, roadside flares or flashing signals, a jack and tire iron, duct tape, a utility tool, a first-aid kit, an empty gas can, a full jug of water, a fire extinguisher, and a rain poncho. Above all, make sure your spare tire is inflated and ready to go!
The best way to go about getting your car ready for travel is to be a better driver. Obey the rules of the road, stay alert, and make sure you have a good idea about where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Bring along a set of maps and itinerary that shows where you’re going, contacts back home and at your destination, and any other emergency information you might need. Happy travels!