Making the effort to do a simple pre-trip inspection can save time, aggravation and possibly lives. Use this checklist to reduce the risk of placing yourself in situations that are not safe and can ruin your trip:
- Check tire pressure (including the spare). Inspect for uneven tread wear and follow your owner’s manual for proper tire pressures and rotation frequency. Take your car to an ASE-certified technician to have tires rotated and balanced.
- Test brake lights, headlights and turn signals to make sure they work properly. Change weak or dead bulbs.
- Replace worn wiper blades.
- Check fluid levels under the hood, including battery fluid, brake fluid, coolant, oil, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid.
- Check belts and hoses for any visible cracks or bulges. Replace belts and hoses over 4 years old.
- Bring a real actual map like a road atlas and a highlighter. You can trace out your route or just keep track of where you've been. It makes a great memento for after the trip.
- Bring a spare car key. Don't leave it in the car silly or you may have to break a window to get to it.
- Be flexible and go with the flow. Be open to greasy spoon restaurants and weird tourist sites. You never know when you're going to have the meal of your life or be blown away by some super silly monument.
All family or work vehicles should have a car emergency kit on board. Here is a list of essential emergency supplies to include:
- Survival blankets and warm clothing
- Working compass
- Exterior windshield cleaner and coolant (antifreeze)
- Complete first aid kit
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Non-perishable food bars (most have a 5 year shelf life)
- Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
- Basic tool kit w/utility knife
- Water packets with extended shelf life
- Working flashlight and extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- Folding shovel
- Air compressor or can of fix-a-flat
- Work gloves
- Emergency whistle
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