The Pre-Road Trip Vehicle Checklist

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Taking a road trip is a great way to travel and have an adventure at the same time. Not only can you visit just about any vacation destination you wish, you get to see the little places in between. A successful road trip, however, hinges on having a car that can survive the experience. Before you head out on the road, go through the following checklist to make sure your car is in top condition and you’re prepared for anything.

– Check or create your emergency kit. If you do get into trouble on the road, you’ll want to be sure you have a few tools. Start with a first aid kit, flashlight, and extra batteries. Then make sure you have an adjustable wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, and a tire inflator for roadside repairs. A jack, spare tire, and jumper cables are key as well. Add a quart of oil and extra fuses, and finish up with duct tape, a gallon of water, and road flares.

– Read your owner’s manual, because it is full of useful information, like the proper procedures for changing a tire or headlight bulb and tips on using your car’s features.

– Check the car itself. The easiest way to ensure your car is ready for a road trip is to bring it to a mechanic and have him or her inspect it. But if you have some mechanical knowhow and want to do the job yourself, make sure to inspect the parts of the car most likely to lead to expensive repairs if they break down: the engine, tires, and brakes. Make sure the car has enough oil and isn’t due for an oil change. Top off the other fluids the vehicle requires, including the transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid. Inspect your hoses for blisters and cracks, and make sure your drive belts aren’t worn. Ensure your tires have the proper pressure and enough tread to get you through your trip. And finally, make sure your brake pads and rotors are in good condition.

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