10 Steps to a Road Trip Ready Vehicle

With the weather getting nicer everyone has vacation on the brain. It’s almost summer and you’ve worked hard and deserve some time off. Flying is expensive and you miss so much of the journey when you’re that high up in the air. Half the fun of a vacation is the journey so why not take a road trip. To ensure that you have a good time you should plan for every aspect of the trip and make sure that your vehicle is road trip ready. Being road trip ready consists of making sure your vehicle can safely make the journey, and for making sure it’s comfortable and user friendly. Here are the ten steps to make sure your vehicle is road trip ready.

1.) Personal check: Take a quick walk around the vehicle and peak inside to see what if anything needs to be fixed or changed before your trip. Make sure to check that the windshield wipers, horn, and all lights on the vehicle are in good working order. Be sure to check the heat and the air conditioning because these two luxuries will be hard to live without on a long rod trip.

2.) Professional check: Make sure the you’re good to go under the hood before you try and take any long trips. Nothing will put a damper on your vacation more than a trip to the auto shop to spend your vacation money on vehicle repairs. Take it into a dealer and have them do at the minimum a visual courtesy check. Midas for example is my place of choice for getting my vehicle checked out.

This inspection should include checks on the battery, filter, radiator, water pump, coolant hoses, belt, steering system, shocks and struts, brake lines and hoses, fuel lines and hoses, exhaust system, engine leaks, transmission leaks, and transmission.

3.) Top off fluids: Making sure your vehicle is full of gas is simply one of the fluids your car needs to perform its best. Other fluids that need to be checked are: window washing fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and very importantly your engine oil. Make sure you have recently gotten an oil change before embarking on any long vacation.

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4.) Tire check: Although road trips are ideal for the spring and summer months, they can also take place in the winter. Be sure to have tires with good traction that will be able to handle all driving conditions. Also make sure the you have the correct tire pressure. This will ensure your optimum gas mileage. The PSI recommendations are different depending on your tires and your vehicle. There will be a stamp on the side on the side of the tire with the PSI recommended value. PSI also depends on what type of load you plan to haul. This will be different if you’re just going backpacking or if you’re towing wave runners to the beach.

5.) Safety first: Be sure to have a blanket in your vehicle in case the evenings get cold and you run out of gas. Make sure to have enough food in the vehicle for just this reason just in case you’re on a back road when you run out of gas. Emergency road kits are also a great thing to have. They can include things such as flash flights, whistles, food, blankets, water, and a first aid kit. You can make them yourself or even buy them pre-made at your local Walmart for $47.88.

6.) Comfortable interior: You will be sitting in this vehicle for quite some time so plan more fore comfort than for style. Leather seats are classy and stylish but you will stick to them in the summer and they aren’t as comfortable. You can buy plush seat covers at your local Walmart for approximately $31.99. They can be personal to you but also increase your comfort level whether you’re driving just down the street or across the country.

7.) Odor control: No one likes to say it but when you’re on a road trip without stopping there may not be as many opportunities for showers and cleaning up as you would think. There are two options to making your vehicle body odor free and they work best if you use them together. Baking soda has long been a trick of the trade for most moms with smelly teenagers. Put some powder on the outside of their door you wont have to smell their adolescence. The same principle will work for vehicles. If you don’t want to put some of the powder down in the interior you can simply open a box of Arm and Hammer and stick it in an area upright in the vehicle. Secondly, you can use an air freshener. The new vent fresheners are my favorite. They don’t annoy you by hanging from the mirror and you get an even fresher scent every time you turn the heat or air on.

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8.) Music check: Whether you have a port to plug in your iPod, a car cd player, an old school tape player, or even just a car radio you should make sure to have music you’ll enjoy. You can’t talk forever so you will need something to fill in the quiet time of the trip so no one falls asleep or feels uncomfortable. An iPod is the best bet because you can save so many songs on there and make play lists right on your computer. Make sure if you have a CD player that you have or burn enough CD’s to last you the trip. You may have one favorite CD that you want to bring, but if you listen to all those songs over and over you’ll end up hating them by the end of the trip. Be sure to bring a variety as well. Sometimes I’m in a country mood but other times I’m in a rebellious rock mood. If you simply have a car stereo there is still something you can do. Look online at the local stations in the bigger cities you’ll be going through and keep track of which genre you’d like to hear. I’d look up all the country stations to make sure I’d always have a fiddle or a banjo to keep me going without having to search through all the noise on the radio.

9.) GPS: Never leave home without it. Mine is permanently attached to my vehicle and a very important part of it. A car is great for going places, but you need to know how to get there to use it to its full potential. I have a Garmin Nuvi 1300 but there are so many brands that you can go cheap and basic or expensive and tricked out. You’ll never get lost if you’ve got your navigation and you can’t always plan for construction so it’s great to get around it with the touch of a button.

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10.) Clean it up, gas it up, and go: Now that all the interior and exterior modifications and checks have been completed, it almost time to get going on the journey. To make sure you have a good time it will be helpful to have a clean vehicle. Whether you get this done professionally or just do it yourself the same goal will be accomplished. Depending on how many people you will be traveling with, the cleaner the vehicle, the more comfortable it will be. Also a tip, if you’re vehicle looks really clean, your friends may respect it more and keep it clean as well. If you’re vehicle is a mess they will not hesitate to add to it.

Now that your vehicle is safe, comfortable, and clean, get out there, have fun, and always drive safe.