The next three tips are broken out into timeframes to make it easier for you to plan ahead.
Many people have concerns about taking their cars on long trips, especially if their cars are getting on in years or mileage. Truth is, long trips are actually easier on your car than day-to-day driving — but a breakdown far from home can really ruin your fun. A few simple checks will stave off many common problems. As with most things, it’s best to start early.
2 Weeks Out
If you have planned a trip with at least a couple weeks of lead time, take advantage of the extra time and start your preliminary prep here.
First: Have your mechanic do a “once-over” or safety and operational inspection. Things to include would be checking:
• air filter
• wiper blades
• engine coolant
• brakes (pads, rotors, etc.)
• brake fluid
• tire tread for wear and tear
• air pressure in the tires
• all fluid levels
• need of an oil change
• anything else your mechanic can think of
Second: If your mechanic finds a problem, or if you know of a pre-existing issue, get it fixed before you leave. Yes, this is common sense but gets missed a lot!
Third: Have the spare tire inspected. if possible do this in the same trip as the first task when you are already at the shop. Just seeing that the spare is in place is not enough. You need to make sure it will work when you need it. Also make sure you have all you need to actually change the tire, such as the jack, lug wrench/tire iron and the key for any locking nuts.
Fourth: Subscribe to an auto travel service like AAA, if you do not have a similar program through your carrier, that includes emergency roadside assistance and towing. Take advantage of your new AAA account right away by requesting pre-routed and marked maps for the trip.
Fifth: Consider getting a “Smart Tag” or “EZ Pass” for paying tolls and fund it with enough to cover the trip.
Next we look at one week out…