Tips for Getting Your Car Road Trip Ready

There are so many things to do before a road trip. While you’re choosing destinations, planning your route, and packing, it’s easy to forget to get your car ready for the road trip. Checking your car’s tires, fluid levels, windshield wipers, and other components takes time, but these are vital tasks—you don’t want to be stranded by the side of the road when you could be enjoying yourself. Here’s how to prepare for a road trip. 

Create a Road Trip Car Maintenance Checklist 

A car maintenance checklist will keep you focused as you get your car ready for a road trip and ensure you don’t forget anything important. You can make your own list or use our handy Car Maintenance Checklist. Don’t forget to drop by your local Grease Monkey® for an oil change and  multi-point inspection. During the oil change, Grease Monkey technicians check many of the items that should be on your checklist. 

Be sure to include the following items on your road trip checklist:

Check Your Tires

Checking the state of your tires is one of the most important things to do before a road trip. Examine your tires for signs of damage, including excessive tread wear, holes, and potential leaks. Take tire pressure readings to ensure your tires are inflated according to manufacturer recommendations. If you haven’t had your tires rotated recently, consider dropping by a participating Grease Monkey service center that offers tire rotation services.

Top Off All Fluids

Your vehicle relies on various fluids for proper lubrication and function. Check the fluid levels of the following fluids:

  • Oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Differential fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield wiper fluid

If you’re close to your next oil change or if it’s due during the trip, consider having it done before you leave. Grease Monkey technicians check and top off your power steering, battery, windshield washer, transmission, and differential fluids during a multipoint oil change.

Check Windshield and Windshield Wipers

A broken windshield can bring your road trip to a sudden halt. Inspect your windshield carefully for damage before a road trip, and arrange to have any cracks or chips repaired. What seems to be minor windshield damage can worsen quickly, especially if small rocks or debris hit the glass at highway speeds. 

While checking your windshield, inspect your windshield wipers. Environmental exposure degrades wiper blades, preventing complete contact with the windshield and impairing performance. Switching to a new pair of wipers improves visibility during rain or snowstorms, improving your safety and driving experience. Grease Monkey checks your wipers during multi-point inspections. We sell and install new wipers if you need them. 

Check the Heat and A/C are Working Properly

Heat and air conditioning systems are car essentials for a road trip. During the summer, properly functioning A/C keeps you cool and comfortable, especially if the vehicle is at total passenger capacity. Heating systems are just as critical in cold weather conditions. Have your A/C and heat checked before your road trip, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable journey. 

Stay Fueled Up

Filling your gas tank is one of the most important things to do before a road trip, but it’s not the only fuel-based preparation you can make. Map out gas stations or charging stations along your route so you know where and when you’ll need to stop. This can be very important in remote regions with long distances between service stations. Running out of gas on a long stretch of highway, particularly one with little traffic or spotty phone reception, is a stressful experience you can avoid with a bit of advance planning. 

Plan Your Route and Your Rest Stops 

Speaking of planning ahead, give your car—and yourself—short rests on the journey. Plan where to stop for coffee, a meal, or to stretch your legs. Keep an eye out for local attractions and scenic points along your route to add more interest to the trip. 

While you’re making plans, map out where you can find Grease Monkey service centers or other maintenance shops just in case your car needs a quick service during their road trip. Your pre-trip maintenance reduces your risk of problems, but knowing who to call can mean the difference between a slight delay and having to delay the entire trip if you need a mechanic. 

Stay Hydrated

A supply of water ranks high among car essentials for a road trip. According to a Loughborough University study, a reduction of “just 2% to 3% of hydration can mean a 20% loss of concentration” while driving. People who drive dehydrated make errors at the same rate as people driving just over the legal limit for alcohol. Staying well-hydrated keeps you more alert and less likely to make driving errors. True, a well-hydrated driver may need to make a few more pit stops, but that’s a small price to pay for a safe road trip. 

Stay Alert and Focused While Driving

Some people thrive on long-distance highway driving while others need a little help staying focused. Sitting up straight, listening to energizing music, frequent breaks, the occasional caffeinated beverage, and chewing gum can all help you stay focused. If you’re traveling with other drivers, have everyone take a turn behind the wheel so no one gets too tired. If worst comes to worst and you find yourself losing focus or getting sleepy, pull off the road to find a motel or somewhere you can rest. 

Make Sure to Pack a Spare TireKit 

Preparing your car for a road trip should include packing a spare tire kit. Many car models now have no spare tire and rely on tire kits, also known as inflator or mobility kits. A tire kit includes an air compressor, hose, and bottle of sealant. In the event of a flat tire, you use the compressor to fill the tire with the sealant and seal the leak, allowing you time to drive to the nearest service station for a replacement tire. Packing a spare tire kit ensures you have a backup should you need to use your existing kit. 

Drive Safely 

Of all the car essentials for a road trip, you’re the most important factor. Practicing defensive driving, remaining within the speed limit, and staying alert all contribute to a safe, enjoyable road trip. Share the road, take steps to stay alert, and buckle up. A careful driver who ensures their car is ready for a road trip will likely have an enjoyable, trouble-free journey. And should you run into auto problems on the road, remember you can easily find the nearest Grease Monkey service center on our Location Page. So gather some friends, pack some snacks, and head out on your next adventure. 

We’ve updated our privacy and cookies policy. <br>We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking a link, or continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.
You can read more about our privacy policy on Learn More