Road Trip Planning: The Car Checklist

The great American road trip is a rite of passage for most modern families. It tests your family’s boundaries, inspires bonding, and creates memories that carry down through generations.

 

Before you embark on this journey, make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Checking your car is the first step to ensure a smooth road trip. Here are a few things to inspect or add to your vehicle before heading on the road.

 

  1. Take the car for a full inspection. Do not wait to have the inspection done: have a mechanic look over your car at least two weeks prior to your road trip.
  2. Have all fluids checked, this includes oils, antifreeze, and transmission.
  3. Pay close attention to your car’s battery. Ensure that it functions properly and free of corrosion. Car batteries typically only last three to five years.
  4. Check the brakes. Brakes need to be in at least 50 percent working condition.
  5. Keep all shocks, struts, and springs functioning.
  6. Get a tune up and all other recommended car maintenance procedures.
  7. Check all car lights.
  8. Also test drive your car. Take a short trip just to listen for any foreign noises or tire pressure issues.
  9. Eliminate the possibility of you and your family being trapped in a car that’s too hot or too cold by having the air conditioning and heating system checked as well.
  10. Make sure that the tires are all inflated at the proper pressure, and that they show no major signs of wear.
  11. Store all important documents in your car: insurance papers, licenses, registrations, and warranties.
  12. Sign up for a roadside assistance program like AAA or Auto Care Club.
  13. Pack extra tires, screwdrivers, wrenches, and seat belts in your trunk. Use coupons to purchase these items at Advance Auto Parts.
  14. Keep spare keys, IDs, towels, and a first aid kit inside a purse for emergencies.
  15. Buy a GPS system and portable charger in case technology issues occur.
  16. On a map, mark the locations of all rest stops and gas stations.
  17. Do not strap luggage to the roof. This weighs down the car and makes it go slower. Just pack less to have enough room for all the luggage inside the car.
  18. Add a small trashcan to your car for all waste to go inside it.
  19. Bring extra blankets, batteries, flashlights, and food and water.
  20. Keep the children entertained while in the car by packing activities such as puzzles, books, magazines, card games, and a portable DVD player for movies.
  21. Upload your road trip playlists to your car’s sound system.