Hitting the road for a long trip can be exciting and fun, as long as you are prepared. Plan early and use lists to get yourself organized, making sure you are packing everything you need for every member of your family. If you are bringing any pets along, make sure you pack items that you will need to care for them as well. Snacks, drinks, pillows, blankets, CD’s and magazines can all help make your time in the car go by faster. Before you head out, make sure your vehicle is all set to handle the distance. Checking your vehicle before departing for a long trip can avoid problems with your engine, radiator, transmission, brakes and tires. The following guidelines will help you ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape and ready to get you to where you’re going.

Check Your Oil

Check Your Oil So many problems result from the need for an overdue oil change! If your next oil change is coming up, make sure to have it done before your trip. If you don’t remember when your last oil change was, it might be a good idea to do it now. Otherwise, check your oil using the dipstick. Pull it out, wipe off the oil with a rag, then put it back in all the way. Check to see that the oil is up close to the “FULL” line on the dipstick. If the oil looks thick and black, you may want to have it changed.

Other Fluids Your car relies on various fluids to keep it running smoothly. One of these is automatic transmission fluid. Check this fluid with its dipstick, and note that if it looks dark and murky, it’s time to change it. Next, check your engine antifreeze level. It should be somewhere within the “MIN” and “MAX” marks on the coolant tank. Check the brake fluid, power steering fluid and make sure to top up the windshield washer tank with all-season windshield washer fluid.


Check Mechanical Components

Mechanical Components Look under the hood to see if there’s anything that looks out of place. Make sure the battery doesn’t have any visible rust or white residue. Check to see if any of the belts or hoses are cracked. Next, take your car out for a test drive to gage how well your steering and suspension are working. Keep the music off and pay particular attention to any sounds or noises coming from the engine or other mechanical components. Next, check your automobile’s lights and electrical systems and make sure everything is working. If any of you lights have burnt out, make sure to replace them before your trip. Don’t forget to check your tire pressure and tread so you wont need roadside assistance if you get a flat.

Safety … Emergency Equipment Make sure your car is equipped with a spare tire and jack as well as a wheel wrench. Also, make sure you have an emergency kit with flares, jumper cables, a flashlight and a simple tool kit.