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How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip: A Complete Checklist

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As Summer approaches lots of families are preparing for vacations and road trips. This can be a very exciting time. Don’t let car problems ruin that. Let’s go over some things to prevent problems on your drive. Presented by your trusted Lincoln auto mechanic One Shot Auto Repair

When you fail to prepare properly problems can arise. It’s never fun to be broke down on the side of the road when you should be enjoying a nice hotel or beach side resort.

Many of the common over looked problems could be a past due oil change or balding tires. These could lead to big problems. Lets go over a few details to check to help you prepare.

Section 1: Pre-Trip Inspection

  1. Check Fluids
    • Engine oil: Check the level and quality.
    • Coolant: Ensure it’s at the correct level and check for leaks.
    • Brake fluid: Verify the level and top up if necessary.
    • Transmission fluid: Check level and condition.
    • Windshield washer fluid: Ensure it’s filled.
  2. Tires
    • Inspect tire pressure: Adjust to the recommended level.
    • Check tread depth: Ensure tires have sufficient tread.
    • Look for signs of wear or damage: Replace if necessary.
    • Don’t forget the spare tire: Ensure it’s in good condition and properly inflated.
  3. Brakes
    • Test brake pads and rotors: Look for wear and tear.
    • Listen for unusual noises: Squeaking or grinding may indicate issues.

Section 2: Essential Systems Check

  1. Battery
    • Check battery charge: Use a multimeter or visit an auto shop.
    • Inspect for corrosion: Clean the terminals if needed.
  2. Lights
    • Test all lights: Headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and interior lights.
    • Replace any burned-out bulbs.
  3. Windshield Wipers
    • Inspect wiper blades: Replace if they are worn out.
    • Test functionality: Ensure they work properly.

Section 3: Comfort and Convenience

  1. Climate Control
    • Test air conditioning and heating: Ensure they work efficiently.
  2. Navigation System
    • Update GPS or maps: Ensure you have the latest information.
    • Plan your route: Have a clear travel plan and alternatives.
  3. Entertainment and Charging
    • Check car chargers: Ensure you have necessary charging cables for devices.
    • Load entertainment: Prepare playlists, audiobooks, or movies for passengers.

Section 4: Emergency Preparedness

  1. Emergency Kit
    • Include basic tools: Screwdrivers, pliers, wrench set.
    • First aid kit: Ensure it’s well-stocked.
    • Road flares or reflective triangles: For signaling in case of breakdowns.
    • Flashlight: Check batteries or have a rechargeable one.
  2. Spare Items
    • Extra fluids: Oil, coolant, and washer fluid.
    • Spare fuses: For quick replacements if needed.
    • Blankets and warm clothing: In case of cold weather or emergencies.

Section 5: Final Preparations

  1. Clean the Car
    • Inside and out: Ensure a comfortable environment for the trip.
    • Check for loose items: Secure anything that might roll around.
  2. Fuel Up
    • Start with a full tank: Plan fuel stops along your route.
    • Consider a fuel container: For long stretches without gas stations.


Remember being thorough with your check helps ensure a safe and happy trip. If you encounter any problems during your check or if you would like a professional to look it over give us a call.

We here at Lincoln Nebraska One Shot Auto Repair are willing and ready to help you prepare for an enjoyable vacation road trip to wherever your heart desires.

Make sure to take your time when preparing rushing only leads to forgetting things.

Thanks for reading and check out our CONTACT page to get in touch today.

a happy family on a beach