How to Prepare Your Car for Your Next Road Trip

  • Few things are more American than loading up the car and heading out on a road trip across the country. But unless you want to spend time on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck to find you in the middle of nowhere, there are some things you must do to prepare your vehicle ahead of time.

    4 Ways to Get Ready for a Road Trip

    “You may not be able to prevent certain things from happening during your road trip, but you can be prepared,” Murphy Law Firm notes. “By preparing your vehicle and planning for emergencies, you are prepared to handle anything that happens on the road.”

    With that being said, be sure that you do the following before setting out on your next road trip:

    1. Top Off Fluids

    Your car is very much like a living organism. It requires various fluids to function properly. So before cranking up your car and hitting the interstate, be sure to check fluid levels and top off anything that’s low.

    Oil, transmission fluid, and gasoline are the first fluids to check, but the list doesn’t end there. There are also things like power steering fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze and coolant, and radiator coolant.

    The first three items on this list also have filters as part of their respective systems. It’s a good idea to have these components examined.

    2. Check Hoses and Belts

    Next, you’ll want to take a look at your vehicle’s hoses and belts. Hoses and belts are known to deteriorate over time and will quickly ruin a road trip if you aren’t careful.

    “Probably the most important hoses under your automobile's hood are the ones that transfer coolant,” one car expert believes. “Since coolant is very hot, about 200 degrees and under pressure, these engine hoses are prone to failure. A failure in one of these hoses will definitely ruin your day, and maybe your car or other vehicle.”

    3. Fill Up Tires

    How many times have you been driving down the road and seen a car stopped on the side? In many of these situations, it’s a flat tire that’s given the driver trouble. And while you can’t prevent a flat tire 100 percent of the time, you can lower your risk by checking your tire pressure before embarking on a road trip.

    Checking tire pressure is as easy as pulling out a handheld gauge and sticking it into the valve steam on each of your vehicle’s tires. If the reading isn’t within the ideal range indicated on the tire, head to the closest gas station and use their air pump. It’s usually free to fill up.

    4. Get an Emergency Kit Together

    Once you’re sure that your vehicle’s main systems are ready to go, the next step is to gather an emergency kit and place it in your trunk. The hope is that you’ll never need to use this kit, but it’s better to be over prepared than under prepared.

    Inside your emergency kit, include things like oil, flashlights, rags, road flares, water, maps, a list of phone numbers, an empty gas container, and anything else that could help you in a situation where you’re stranded. You never know when some of these items will come in handy.

    Be Prepared for Everything

    You may have the perfect little plan for how your road trip will go, but you ultimately have no idea what will unfold. Traffic, weather, car troubles…anything can happen. Prepare ahead of time and you’ll be ready for whatever the open road throws at you.