Is Your Car Road Trip Ready? 3 Things to Do Before You Hit the Road

Are you planning a road trip this summer? You’ve picked your destination and the places you want to stop along the way. You’ve booked a hotel, packed your comfiest clothes, and bought a new pair of sunglasses—you are ready to hit the road. But is your car?

Make sure to do these three things before you head out.

1. Stock up on Supplies

If you encounter an emergency while you are far from home, you won’t be able to call a neighbor or family member to come to the rescue. Hopefully everything goes smoothly, but you should have the following things on hand in case bad weather leaves you stranded or your car breaks down in the middle of a desert.

  • Fully-stocked first aid kit: Remember to include bandages, antibiotic ointment, scissors and tweezers, cold/heat pack, and pain killers
  • Extra water and non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables
  • Supplies to handle a flat or blown out tire: Bring a jack, tire iron, spare tire, and a puncture repair kit
  • Basic tools: Pack some screw drivers, pliers, wrenches, and duct tape.
  • Extra engine coolant
  • Blanket
  • Map of the area
  • Cell phone and charger

2. Make a Plan

You can’t always prevent your car from breaking down, so make sure you have a plan for emergencies. If your car leaves you stranded on the open road, do the following:

  • If possible, move your car to the side of the road. If possible, coast along the shoulder until you are away from curves in the road so that other drivers will have a clear view of your stopped vehicle.
  • For your safety, and the safety of others, alert other drivers to the fact that you are stopped by turning on your hazard lights, hanging something out of your window or popping your hood. You should also turn on your hazard lights if you are moving very slowly while looking for a safe place to pull over.
  • Call for help. If you have roadside assistance they should be able to come get you and your car. If you don’t have roadside assistance, write down the numbers tow truck companies in the area you will be visiting before you leave on your trip. If you are unable to call for help, wait patiently until a highway patrol officer drives through the area. Make sure family and friends know where you are headed, so they can alert authorities if you don’t check in with them at an expected time.

3. Check the Basics

The best way to prevent car trouble is to check your car before you leave. Be sure to check and change your oil as well as check your breaks, and suspension.

After you have a professional check for the major problems, do your own inspection. Does your air filter need to be replaced? Do you have enough windshield washer fluid? Are your tires inflated to the pressure recommended in your vehicle owner’s manual? Do the tires have enough tread left?

Once you’ve checked your car for problems, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the vehicle. If you usually use your car for commuting to and from work, it is possible you’ve never needed to turn on the high-beams, fog lights, or cruise control. Make sure you know where everything is now and can easily turn things on as needed.

Do these three things before you head out on your road trip so you can enjoy the scenery worry-free.

My name is Lizzie Weakley and I am a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. I went to college at The Ohio State University where I studied communications. I enjoy the outdoors and long walks in the park with my 3-year-old husky Snowball.

Lizzie was inspired to write this article by Speedy Brake and Apollo Muffler.

Lizzie Weakley

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