How to prepare for a summer roadtrip

Nothing ruins a summer vacation more than having your car breakdown hundreds of miles from home.  A little preparation and planning can go a long way to keeping your vehicle and your family from getting stuck on the side of the road.

Make an appointment with your dealer or favorite ASE Certified mechanic at least a week before your trip to get a pre-roadtrip safety inspection.  This gives the shop sufficient time to order parts and make any necessary repairs to your vehicle before your scheduled departure date.

  • Make sure all fluids, including oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and differential oil, are clean and full. If you are planning a long roadtrip (more than 2000 miles), get a fresh oil change now, so you don’t have to try to find a service shop in the middle of your vacation.
  • Change the air filter and engine air filter (yes, they are 2 different air filters), if needed, to ensure that both your family and your engine can breathe clean air.
  • Check that all hoses and belts are tight and free of cracks or other damage
  • Check the cooling system for leaks that could cause your engine to overheat.
  • Check the air condition system to make sure that YOU don’t overheat!
  • Check the brakes (rotors, pads and fluid) and replace if needed
  • Verify that all headlights, brake lights and turn signals are clear and working properly, so you can see and be seen.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread all around and are free from cracks, bulges and other defects.
  • Check that you have the correct amount of air in your tires, especially if you are loading up your vehicle, to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize the risk of a blowout.
  • Replace your windshield wipers, if needed, and top off the wiper fluid to keep your windshield clear of dirt and bugs!

Once your vehicle has received a clean bill of health from your mechanic, you are ready to pack up and hit the road.  Don’t forget to pack a roadside emergency kit, just in case, and bring plenty of snacks, water and entertainment for the kids (both big and small).  With a little organization and planning, you and your family can enjoy a fun and safe summer roadtrip.  Assuming you don’t kill each other.