With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start planning and preparing for road trip season. It doesn’t matter if you’re only driving a few hours or trekking across the country; it’s essential to take preventive action to ensure your vehicle is up for the challenge.

Below, we’ve compiled the ultimate checklist to get your ride ready for adventures big and small. From fluid checks to packing tips, this guide will help you travel safely this summer.

Tire condition

If you inspect your tires before a road trip, you can save time and money. Check the condition of the sidewalls and perform the penny test to make sure you have adequate tread. Stick a penny upside down between the treads, and if you can see Abraham Lincoln’s head, your treads are worn and replacement is needed.

Checking your tire pressure is also critical before a road trip. Use a tire gauge to check that the tires are correctly inflated and adjust as necessary. Properly inflated tires will improve gas mileage and keep you safer on the road. Make sure to check your spare tire’s condition and consider adding a can of flat repair or a plug kit to your supplies.

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Fluid levels

If you plan to drive long distances, an oil change might be beneficial before hitting the road. Synthetic motor oil can go 5,000 miles or longer without changing, making it worth the cost for a long drive. Don’t stop after checking the oil, however. Checking your transmission, radiator, and brake fluids can help you avoid costly breakdowns and dangerous situations. And while it’s easy to overlook, starting your drive with a full reservoir of wiper fluid is a must for a safe road trip.

Headlights

Most epic road trips involve some driving at night. To see whatever the road throws at you, you’ll want to ensure your headlights are clean and operable. Buy a headlight cleaning kit to improve their brightness and increase visibility behind the wheel. If you have a dim bulb, consider replacing it before taking off. Keeping some spare fuses on hand will also help keep the lights on.

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Battery health

Checking your connections and cleaning battery terminals will also help you avoid stressful situations on the road. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean contacts and remove corrosion, and make sure connections are tight when finished.

Corroded cables and exposed wires can lead to a dead battery if not addressed, so replace worn parts before you leave home. If your battery is five years or older, consider replacing it before starting the trek.

Brake check

Ensuring your brake pads aren’t worn is also imperative before a long haul. If you notice squeaking or grinding when you apply pressure to the brake pedal, you may need new pads. Visit a mechanic and have a brake inspection performed to make sure you’ll be able to stop on demand.

Tips for the road

Packing your vehicle correctly can also help make your trip go smoothly. Avoid packing luggage on top of the car to reduce drag and increase mileage per gallon.

Make a list of accessories you’d like in the car to make sure nothing is left behind. Car chargers, auxiliary cables, and Bluetooth speakers can make the miles melt and make the drive more tolerable — and using the car battery to charge devices while driving is the most efficient way to go.

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Consider buying a spare key case to be stashed outside of your car. These little magnetic boxes are invaluable if a key becomes lost or locked inside the vehicle.

Running through this checklist is the easiest way to make sure your ride is prepared for a summer road trip. Don’t skip any steps, and prioritize preventive care to avoid wasting precious vacation hours on car repairs. With some planning and preparation, you’ll be ready for adventure wherever the road takes you this summer!

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