May 29

Vehicle Checklist Before Going on a Road Trip

Getting out on the road to escape the daily drudgery, explore new cities, and create new memories is the perfect getaway for a busy family, a newlywed couple, or as a solitary adventure. Although much of your planning can happen along the way, there are several things you should mark off your checklist before you leave home. Preparing for someone to watch your home, having a go-to emergency medical kit, and making sure you have all your personal items in check can help ensure you have a great time. Use our vehicle checklist before going on a road trip to prepare your vehicle for the adventures ahead. 

Ensure Your Vehicle Is Regularly Maintained

Regular and consistent vehicle maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure your vehicle is safe, works well, and can get you where you need to be. Keep up with periodic oil changes, conduct recommended tire rotations, regularly conduct brake and rotor checks, change air filters, and maintain the factory-recommended air pressure in your tires. These small steps will prolong the life of your vehicle and give you an easy ride when you are preparing for a road trip. Some other basic steps to consider when preparing for a road trip are:

  • Clean the inside and outside of your car, truck, or SUV: You’ll be more comfortable while driving and will find items, such as your phone charger or road map, much easier. A clean exterior will also make finding your car easier when parking in unfamiliar lots or parking garages.
  • Keep a small garbage bag inside the vehicle: This small step will make picking up after snacks easier and faster. 
  • Change the spark plugs: The spark plugs are an important component to ensuring your engine works as it should. You don’t want to be struggling with faulty starts and worried about your vehicle’s engine health. Remove that worry by changing out the spark plugs, which is a simple step and rather cost-effective. 
  • Check the health of the spare tire: Expect the unexpected. No one plans on a flat tire, but there’s nothing worse than being stuck in an unfamiliar area, away from friends and family, and having a flat tire with a faulty spare. We often overlook spare tires until it is too late. Make sure your spare fits the vehicle, has no breaks, and can help you out in a pinch. 
  • Check the charge on your vehicle battery: Batteries drain and age. An older battery might be great for daily errands but can get worn down quickly on a long road trip. You want to have power when you need it, be able to read your speedometer easily, and know that your vehicle is well lit at night. 
  • Ensure all your lights are working properly: You don’t want to start off your road trip by being pulled over for failure to signal or a brake light that won’t light up. Check your bulbs, ensure your hazard lights are functioning, and confirm that your flashers and brake lights work to signal other drivers and keep you safe on the road. 
  • Pack the owner’s manual: In case you have to reference it for an emergency part or minor vehicle malfunction, have a hard copy of the owner’s manual stored in the glove compartment or an easy-to-reach place. You may not have access to the online versions. 
  • Refill fluids: Check your water levels, power steering and windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze. You’ll save your vehicle from overheating or freezing and can easily wipe away dirt and dingy bugs that cling to your windshield during long-distance driving. 
  • Gas up: Start your trip with a full tank of gas and plan for places to stop along the way. If you know your route, you can easily map out your stops to have breaks for drivers and passengers. 
  • Get a copy of your key: Accidents happen. You don’t want to spring for a locksmith when you could spend your money on a nice dinner on the road or some souvenirs for family and friends. Get a copy made of your car key and keep the copy separate from your set of keys. You can store it in your wallet or hand it to another adult on the trip with you. In case you lock your set in the car or misplace them, you have a backup ready. 
  • Inspect tires: Check the tread on all tires and look for signs of bulges, strains, deep cracks, or other damage. If you need to, replace any worn or damaged tires before your departure. Make sure the tire pressure is consistent on all tires and that you have not over-inflated. Account for the time of year and temperature shifts, as high heat and extreme cold can affect the air pressure in your tires. 

Pack an Emergency Kit

Consider your individual health needs and those of anyone riding with you. Pack some emergency items in case someone has a minor injury, such as a scrape or bug bite. You may also want to plan for more major incidents, depending on your trip, and for specific medical needs. If you or someone traveling with you has severe allergies, check for an EPI-Pen. A diabetic may need to store insulin safely and have access to something sugary in case their levels drop. You can buy ready-made emergency kits or make your own. Ensure you have some basics like matches, flashlights, bandages, and antiseptic. 

Have Basic Creature Comforts

Some rest stops don’t get refilled too often. Carry with you some toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, cleansing and disinfecting wipes, and gloves or face masks, if necessary. If you are traveling in a group or with kids, you may also want some pillows, blankets, and items to keep kids entertained. 

As you pack your bags, contact us at Huffines CJDR Plano for your vehicle’s health needs. Whether you are looking for routine maintenance, need a special repair, or have some questions about buying a new vehicle, or selling one, let us help you out. Stop by and let us know what you think of our list. Did we miss an action you always perform or an item you always pack? Let us know! We’ll add it to our list.


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