The Ultimate Vehicle Checklist for a Safe Road Trip

It’s almost here: that vacation you have been eagerly awaiting is directly in sight! This time you’ve decided to forgo the airplane. Pack up your stuff and load your loved ones in the car because we’re going on a road trip! Use these checklists to make sure you and your car go the distance.

Pre – Road Trip Maintenance

Whether your road trip is a couple hundred miles or you’re traveling across the country, it’s imperative that your car runs at its absolute best. To ensure a smooth and safe ride, take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic to have it inspected and secured with preventative maintenance. Do this two weeks prior to the trip so you have ample time to fix any issues and make necessary adjustments.

Preventative Maintenance Checklist:

  • Car Battery: Make sure it’s strong and has clean terminals.
  • Tires: Check for proper air pressure; low tire pressure will waste fuel and can cause the tire to run hotter from the extra friction. Have any existing punctures inspected and make sure the tread on your tires isn’t too worn.
  • Brakes: Have brake fluid levels checked and topped off, and verify your brake pads are in good condition and don’t need replacing.
  • Fluids: Check all main fluids and have them topped off or flushed if needed. Some fluids include transmission fluid, antifreeze/coolant, radiator coolant, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid.
  • Hoses & Belts: Confirm they are all tightly secured.
  • Engine Oil: Play it safe and have your oil changed before a big road trip.
  • Lights: Do a quick inspection to make sure all headlights, blinkers, and your high/low beams are working. It can be dangerous to drive with faulty lights and it could cost you a ticket.
  • Air filters: Check that your filters are clean and have them replaced if needed. Clean filters keep pollutants from entering your engine, which keeps your car running smoother and the air within the vehicle cleaner.
road trip

Road Trip Essentials to Pack

Once you can rest assured knowing that your vehicle is in tip top shape before hitting the open road, take the extra time to pack precautionary gear in the unlikely event of an accident, a breakdown, or a flat tire. Better safe than sorry! Below we’ve included an emergency kit checklist to take with you on your road trip.

Emergency Kit Checklist:

  • Jumper cables.
  • Spare car key. Have someone besides the driver hold onto the extra key, because a family road trip would be the worst possible time to experience the crippling disappointment of locking both keys in the car.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Blanket.
  • Spare tire: Check beforehand that it’s fully inflated and that the jack, wrench and other tire-changing tools are in the car.
  • Reflective warning triangles: warn oncoming traffic for their safety and yours if you’re stuck on the side of the road.
  • Foam tire sealant: a quick, inexpensive way to repair a flat without having to change the tire.
  • Windshield Ice Scraper: if traveling during the winter.
  • Duct tape.
  • Multi-purpose knife.
  • A small cooler with water bottles that you can refill. Use ice packs rather than ice, this will create less mess and they can be refrozen to use again.
  • Snacks like fruit, pretzels, granola bars, and crackers to have on hand.
  • Car phone charger.
road trip entertainment

Road Trip Entertainment

The road trip is a vacation in itself. This is the time to laugh and create memories with the people you’re traveling alongside. Instead of each person throwing in their headphones and zoning out, interact with each other, play games, and create the stories that you will look back on later and laugh at. Here are a few ideas of ways to pass the time.

Entertainment Checklist:

  • Audio Book: So the whole car can enjoy.
  • Deck of cards
  • Classic Car Games: like 21 questions. Someone thinks of something (an object, place, animal, etc.) then the others begin asking questions, you have 21 questions to try and guess what the person is thinking. The winner is the next to think of something for the others to guess.
  • Look up fun articles or fun facts to read out loud, for example, Car Facts That Will Blow Your Mind and have a few laughs while learning some new things.
  • Music: make some mixed CD’s before the trip. Pick fun songs to sing along to, or older songs that everyone hasn’t listened to for a while.
road trip

Just like Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination”, so take advantage of every moment of the road trip. When you stop to fill up the car or get a bite to eat, take the time to stretch, relax and explore. And remember, the trip wouldn’t be possible without your good old reliable car. Perform the necessary preventative maintenance so you can travel with confidence and focus on making memories instead of worrying about the drive.