Car Checklist Before Long Road Trip

The Great American Road Trip
The Great American Road Trip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s nothing like a road trip. I think of the open road, great tunes on the radio and rows and rows of corn rows (I’m in the Midwest).

Then reality sinks in. I’m traveling with a six year old and four year old. I’m bracing myself for food meltdowns, constant potty breaks and the occasional brotherly fight or two.

The one thing I do not plan on experiencing… car trouble! There are a lot of things out of my control, but the last thing I want is to be stranded on the side of the road because I didn’t get my car ready.

And so, my friend, to keep you from being that sucker broken down on the side of the road while the kids release crocodile tears in the back seat, I offer you a road trip checklist you can use any time of the year.

Check Fluids

  • Engine Oil
  • Antifreeze/Coolant
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Brake Fluid
  • Transmission Fluid

Examine Hoses

  • Free of Soft Spots
  • Free of Cracks, Cuts or Bulges
  • No Collapsed or Frayed Areas
  • Free of Leaks

Check Tires

  • Tire Pressure
  • Tire Tread
  • Sidewalls
  • Free of Leaks
  • Lug Wrench, Jack
  • Spare Tire

Check Belts

  • Free of Cracks
  • Free of Fraying
  • Listen for Squeals

Inspect Brakes

  • Pad Depth
  • Listen While Braking


  • Free of Leaks
  • Free of Cracks or Other Damage


  • Wiper Blades
  • Wiper Fluid
  • Headlight & Taillight Lenses
  • Headlight & Taillight Bulbs
  • Mirrors

Air Filter

  • Free of Dirt etc.
  • Cabin Air Filter Clean?


  • Cell Phones & Chargers
  • Tool Set
  • Map, Route Plan (GPS, phone don’t always work)
  • Emergency Roadside Kit
  • Extra Set of Keys
  • AAA Membership
  • Insurance Card, Car Registration
  • Horn

Will these tips guarantee a mechanic-free trip? Not necessarily. But it’ll raise your chances for a good trip.



One Comment

  1. Oh, man I have no idea how to check my brakes or anything! But I do carry an emergency kit, so that’s something… Thank goodness I don’t make road trips! 🙂

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