It’s that time of year when minds turn to the open road, and we start daydreaming about a road trip to the beach … the mountains … or the theme parks. And of course, along the way we always try to hit a few roadside attractions, like this Smiley Face Water Tower, a giant turtle made out of wheels, or Carhenge.
Sounds great, right? Well, don’t gas up just yet — there are a few things to think about before you hit the highway. We don’t want to take all the fun out of your adventure, but we don’t want to see you broken down on the side of the road, either. So check out our easy list of road trip prep items:
Check your tires
Check your tire tread depth and tire pressure. Visually inspect the tires and look for tears, cracking, dry rot, and other signs of stress.
Don’t forget the spare!
Check the pressure on your spare tire (remember that the recommended pressure for your spare may be different than the other tires; check the tire placard on the door jamb). While you’re at it, make sure the tire changing kit is equipped with everything you need – jack, lug wrench, flares, etc.
Get an oil change
If it’s been a while, get your oil changed before you take off. Ask your mechanic to check the car’s fluids, too.
Make sure the AC is ready to go
If you’ve ever taken a long summer drive in a car with non-functioning air conditioning, you probably still have scars (mental and physical). Crank up the AC as a test and make sure it’s blowing plenty of icy air. If not, consult a pro.
Pop the hood and do a visual inspection
If your battery is old, or if you see evidence of leaking, corrosion, or other damage, consider getting it replaced. Check hoses and belts for cracking, cuts, or other signs of wear.
Check windshield washer fluid and wiper blades
You know how when you drive on the freeway in the summertime, your windshield gets spackled with nasty insect carcasses and bug juice? Enough said.
Plan, plan, and plan some more
There are a number of websites and apps that can help you plan the perfect road trip. Check out Road Trip USA for top routes and attractions across the country, Roadfood for great eats wherever you go, and the Weather Underground road trip planner to get the forecast all along your route. GasBuddy can help you find the cheapest gas while you’re driving, and they also have a road trip cost calculator.
Or if you’re the spontaneous type, don’t plan at all. If you’ve got the time, sometimes it’s fun to just see where the road takes you.
Don’t forget to bring the:
- Cell phone and car charger
- GPS/navigation and/or old-school maps and road atlas
- Roadside assistance info (Don’t have it? Get it before you go)
- Battery jump starter or jumper cables
- Stuff to occupy the kids – DVDs, books on tape, games, sketchbooks, camera, etc.
- Snacks and beverages
Now that you’re all ready for your road trip adventure, get out there and enjoy the ride!