Getting Ready for a Road Trip
If you are going on a long road trip, you should prepare your car in advance. Few things will ruin your trip faster than your car breaking down on the side of the road. Not only could this strand you in the middle of nowhere, it could also be incredibly expensive. As the saying goes "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Taking care of some basic things before you head off on your trip can reduce the chances that you will be standing by the side of the highway waiting for roadside assistance to appear.
See a Mechanic
The first thing you should do before you go on a road trip is take your car in to a mechanic. Auto repair professionals can look at your car and find things wrong with it that an amateur cannot. Using modern diagnostic tools, your car's on-board computer can "talk" to the the mechanic. This can identify problems that a novice couldn't.
Check Your Lights
Lights are important to have in working order. Not only can a busted taillight attract undue attention from police officers, it can also get you into an accident if people cannot tell that you are stopping.
Check Your Fluids
Your car contains a number of fluids. This includes your oil, but also coolants and possibly transmission fluids. This is something that you can do yourself, without the aid of professionals.
Tire Pressure Is Important
Not only will having the proper tire pressure keep you safe; it will also save you money. Make sure to check your manual to see what the proper tire pressure is for your vehicle.
Have a Spare Tire
Unfortunately, few cars come with spare tires these days. Most of them come with "donuts" -- small tires that cannot be used at high speeds or over long distances. You may want to get yourself a true spare tire for a longer road trip to be prepared.
Have Good Brakes
Before you go anywhere, get your brakes checked. You will also want to make sure that you have good brake pads. This is particularly important if you will be getting off of the main highway frequently.
Secure Your Exhaust
Make sure that the exhaust is secured. An exhaust that falls off of your car is not only expensive, it's also a hazard for other motorists on the road -- and a potential moving violation.
Belts Are Important
Your car may have a number of belts or just a single belt. Either way, you should make sure that your belts are in good repair. Although this may seem like a minor point, it can mean the difference between your car running and sitting by the side of the road. This isn't a part that costs a great deal, and it will save you a lot of time and aggravation on your road trip.
Once you get your car looked at and take care of the things that you can do yourself, you will be ready to hit the open road. This is a long-standing American tradition. You'll want to pack your goods, make a few mix CDs and maybe even bring a book like Jack Kerouac's On The Road to occupy your time. More important than what you bring with you is planning the proper route and stops. Make sure to bring a map along, and above all, have a good time.