How to Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip

The Domestic CEO serves up 10 tips to get your car road trip-ready--so you can get out the door, and on the road!

Amanda Thomas
4-minute read
Episode #122

Today, I’m going to take a little visit out of the main parts of the house...and into the garage.

If you’re like me, you like to take the occasional road trip. Whether you are going to be on the road for a few hours or a few days, a little preparation is always a good idea. After all, if you are planning a getaway to some wonderful little weekend spot to recharge your batteries, you'll want to make sure your vehicle is up to the task--and that your own figurative battery is not the only one in need of a recharge!

With that in mind, here’s a car-prep checklist to go through before hitting the road:.

Get an Oil Change and an Overall Check-Up

This should be the first thing on your checklist. You always want to start your trip out with a car that’s ready to go, and having your trusted mechanic check all belts, hoses, and brakes might ward off a possible breakdown. Ask your mechanic to check your battery, so you aren’t stuck somewhere with a dead one. While his head is under the hood, have him take a quick look at all major parts of the car, as well.

A while back, my husband and I were on a road trip from Arizona to San Francisco, and we broke down in the Napa, California area. My car’s timing belt snapped, which caused a huge amount of damage to the engine. We could have avoided this horrible situation had we asked our mechanic to take a look at--and replace, if necessary--the timing belt. The old song says that you are supposed to leave your heart in San Francisco, but Mr. DCeo and I left my car there instead! Take it from me-- it’s MUCH more cost effective to have your mechanic do a once over, in order to prevent a catastrophe on the road.

Top Off All Fluids

You can have your mechanic do this, or handle it yourself. The vital fluids are oil (which should be fine, if you got that oil change), transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. If you aren’t quite sure where all these reservoirs are located, check your owner’s manual. For a full fluid checklist and approximate mileage when services should be done on your car, here is a handy checklist.

Don’t Forget the Windshield Wiper Blades

It’s so easy to forget about your windshield wiper blades--especially if you live in Arizona, like I do, and don’t use your wipers that often. You don’t want to be stuck in a downpour with wiper blades that are worn and tattered. Replace these before an upcoming road trip, just to be on the safe side.

Check the Spare Tire

You always want to make sure your spare tire is in good condition. The inevitable flat tire never happens at a good time, and no one wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a spare that’s just as bad as your flat. While you’re at it, make sure you have a working jack and tire iron.