Epic Road Trip Planning Part 1: Vehicle Check

by - Thursday, February 05, 2015

It may seem early to plan for summer road trips, but to have a truly epic adventure of the positive variety, you need to plan ahead. I'll never forget Christmas eve of '87 when we ate Ichiban in the camper in a small, coastal town. Our best laid plans had fallen by the wayside as our truck sputtered sadly, 4 hours from Anaheim, and refused to go any further. So much for Christmas at Disneyland! With the only garage around closed until the 26th, we hunkered down, made do with what we had (Ichiban for dinner), and went for lots of rainy beach walks. Once our vehicle was roadworthy, we carried on - all the way to Mexico! Was it an epic road trip? Hell, yeah! Unfortunately the costs for my parents were epic too; the truck had needed more than a few parts, as in a whole new engine! Had they taken the truck in for a pre-trip inspection, they may have avoided a massive expense and lengthy delay. 

We drive for sights like this! Moulton Barn and Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Planning An Epic Road Trip - Part 1: Vehicle Check

  1. Tires: Ensure that your tires have lots of tread left and are properly inflated. Old tires are more prone to blowouts, and blowouts at highway speeds can be deadly. Properly inflated tires will give you better gas mileage, traction, and reduce the chance of punctures. Be sure to fill up your spare tire too! While you're doing that, check to make sure you have the tools you need to change a flat (and instructions if you've never done it before).
  2. Maintenance: Check your vehicle's maintenance records to make sure all work is up to date. It is important to check your oil, lights, brakes, timing belt, and battery. I like to get a pre-trip oil change and multi-point inspection for peace of mind. Shop around in advance for a deal, and do some research so you can determine whether you need to do all the recommended work. 
  3. Fluids: Check fluid levels, replenish as necessary, and ensure caps are well fastened. Check for leaks the net day. 
  4. Windshield Wiper Blades: You don't want to find out in a torrential rainstorm that your windshield wiper blades are shot and streaking your windows. Test them out and replace them before your trip if need be.
  5. First Aid Kit: Purchase or replenish your First Aid Kit as needed.
  6. Essentials: Booster cables, battery booster, jerry can, shovel, tarp (for tire changing or emergency shelter), flashlight. Some boosters even have a built-in light and USB port to charge your phone. If you are not camping, be sure to pack some survival gear such as blankets, a firemaking kit, flashlight/mini lantern/headlamp and matches and candles (as backup - batteries die), and some extra food and water in the event of an accident or breakdown far from town. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) such as the InReach is good to have if you are frequently off the beaten path. In winter driving conditions, you should always keep blankets, extra clothes, and kitty litter in the car. Some kitty litter sprinkled around your tires will give you traction in the event you slide off the road (but aren't so far off the road to need towing).
  7. Registration and Insurance: Are these up to date? Did you remember to place the sticker(s) on your license plate?
  8. Roadside Assistance: If you do not have roadside assistance from your vehicle's manufacturer (some provide it for the first 1-2 years after purchase) or a credit card that you carry, consider signing up for roadside assistance. CAA / AAA is excellent value for the money. We have used our membership for free maps, towing, battery boosts, and unlocking the door when we locked our keys in. They will even bring you gas if you run out!  
This battery booster saved us a couple times when the kids left a light in the car on all night long!
It can also charge your phone! Available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Getting your vehicle ready is just the beginning. In Epic Road Trip Planning Part 2, we will discuss budgeting and how to make the trip of your dreams a reality. Stay tuned! 

Has your vehicle ever let you down? How did you deal with it?

The complete Epic Road Trip Planning series may be found here:

Part 1: Vehicle Check
Part 2: Budgeting Tools & Tips
Part 3: Embrace the Journey
Part 4: Deciding Where to Stay
Part 5: The Ultimate Car Camping Pack List

You May Also Like

1 comments

  1. Great tip for getting a perfect trip with your vehicle.

    They must be the factors you should check before starting your journey.
    But if you have to drive for a long time, you must get the tired and back pain before coming your destination. To prevent this problem, you should have some more parts in your car like:
    +)a seat cushion to get comfortable in your car.
    +)a freshener to prevent the the musty and mold and feeling relax when driving...etc.

    Thank you so much for your share. I am planing a vacation too and this article is so helpful for me.

    ReplyDelete

Join the conversation!