What two other words could elicit as much joy? Maybe “free pizza,” but we digress. Hearing that a vacation is around the corner, we all conjure up images of in-the-car-sing-alongs, gas station sandwiches, and quality family time. It’s like the saying goes, the journey is better than the destination. But in order to make that journey an unforgettable one—instead of a regrettable one—we need to make sure our transportation is in tip-top shape. Because while enjoying the scenic route is on the to-do list, doing so while stranded by your car kind of takes the fun out of it.
So, what needs to be done prior to loading up and riding off? Here are a few tips.
Make sure your tires are rocking and rolling. Check each tire for any tiny rips or bulges in the side wall. A bulge is a tell-tale sign that a blowout is in your future. If that’s the case, change the tire. Next, check the tread. Make sure there’s enough rubber to meet the road for your entire journey. Lastly, don’t find yourself under pressure—make sure each tire is inflated to your car manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
The fun can’t start if your car doesn’t. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your battery is packed with as much juice as your cooler is. Also, make sure the black and red terminals are nice and clean. Here’s a simple trick: pour some cola on the terminals and scrape away with an old toothbrush (baking soda and water works, too).
LET’S TAKE A BRAKE
Before heading out, be certain your car’s brakes are in working order. If you hear a squealing sound, then your pads—also called “shoes”—need to be replaced. Even if your brakes seem to be working fine, it’s best to get them checked out before heading out.
Like mom would say, “you never can be too prepared.” That’s especially true when getting ready for a roadie. OK, what do we need here? Emergency kit with flashlight and first-aid kit? Check. Some basic tools? Check. A spare tire with lug wrench and jack? Check, check. You want to enjoy your trip, so being well-prepared will boost your confidence, allowing you to just sit back and let the memories roll.
ARE WE THERE YET?
If your kids are coming along for the ride, it’s probably a good idea to pack their favorite snacks and even a couple toys to help pass the time. When in doubt, always pack more. And then a little bit more. You can never have too many goodies to keep the kiddos occupied. But you probably already knew that.
THERE’S A MAP FOR THAT
Thankfully, the days of impossible-to-fold paper accordion maps and massive spiral-bound guidebooks are far in the rear view. Nowadays, all you need is a good portable GPS navigation system (if your car doesn’t come with one already). Or you can simply download a number of map apps—we call them “mapps.” Waze seems to be a fan favorite. Or trusty Google maps. Whatever you use, we recommend mapping out the best route so you can spend your time vacationing, not asking for directions.
GET PLENTY OF FLUIDS
Regardless of make or model, your car has its fair share of fluids. Motor oil. Brake fluids. Differential oils, coolants, the list goes on and on. Make sure you have plenty of fluid—and even bring some with you just in case. Not sure how to check your fluids? We recommend going to a certified dealer or referring to your owner’s manual.
Pretty simple, right? Just check your tires, fluids, brakes, get prepped, and get ready to have fun.
This content was created in partnership with TrueCar.