Road Trip Ready Vehicle Checklist

A huge thanks to Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser for sponsoring this post. Just remember, the advice I give is mine, all mine. #FueltheLove #CollectiveBias

'Tis the season to hit the road! Kids are out of school, three-day-weekends are plentiful, and the great outdoors is calling. Summer vacations usually involve a lengthy drive, but is your vehicle road trip ready?

There are 9 things to check off your safety list before heading out to your destination.

Check/Change Oil

If your motor oil is low or old, you risk the chance of damaging your engine. With your vehicle on a flat surface, pull out the dipstick, wipe it off, and reinsert it. Pull it out again and check the oil level. It should be close to full. If it's not, or if the oil is too dark, it's probably time for an oil change.

You can do this yourself or a professional can do it for you. Regardless of who does it, make sure you get the product that's right for your vehicle. I use Pennzoil High Milage Vehicle oil since both my car and van are over 75,000 miles. I'm partial to Pennzoil because it is designed to protect my engine so I can drive an extra 550 miles a year versus driving with a dirty engine. Hey, 550 miles is a good road trip!

Check/Top Off Antifreeze

I've passed many a person, pulled off the road, pouring water in their overheated vehicle. Let's avoid that, shall we? Take a peek under your hood and check your engine coolant level. If it's between LOW and FULL, you're good to go. If it's below LOW, have a professional check for leaks.

Check Battery for Leaks & Cracks

Make sure the box powering your car is damage-free. If you find corrosion, it's leaking acid and will need to be replaced. Bite the bullet. It's easier to buy a new battery than drive with vinegar and baking soda to clean the terminals when your car won't start. (Yes, my sister totally did that.)

Top Off Wiper Fluid

Driving through a bug-infested stretch or a dust storm is pretty par for the course on my road trips. But if I'm out of wiper fluid, an annoyance has become a hazard. You have to see to drive, so fill it up and you won't have to stop at a gas station just to clean your windshield.

Check/Replace Wipers

Once that wiper fluid is filled, run it through and check your wipers at the same time. Again, visibility is key and you don't want to be caught in a rainstorm with a streaky windshield. Replace those wipers, even if the forecast doesn't call for rain.

Check Lights

Have a family member or friend stand outside while you hit the breaks, turn on headlights, and signal for turns. I've been pulled over a few times not knowing I had a taillight or headlamp out. Don't risk getting a ticket on vacation!

Check Tire Pressure & Tread

Before you fill up with gas, take advantage of the station's air compressor and check the air. Look at the sticker on your door frame for the recommended tire pressure. For tread, use the "coin trick." Stick a penny in the tread of your tires. If the tread covers any part of Lincoln's head, there's still life in your tires. If the tread doesn't touch his head, it's time to replace them.

Check Spare Tire

Changing a tire is no bueno. It's not difficult, but it's annoying. Hopefully you won't have to do it on your trip if you've checked your pressure and tread. But just to be safe, at the same time you check your other tires, pull out the spare and check its tire pressure as well. If it's a full-size tire, the pressure will be the same as your others. If it's a donut, the recommended tire pressure should be on the whitewall.

Purchase/Update Emergency Kit

I'm mildly paranoid. I like to prepare for the worst. Having an emergency kit helps me not worry about the unexpected. Mine has jumper cables, a flashlight, flares, a small tool kit, and a first aid kit.

To dot your i's and cross your t's, I created a printable PDF of these safety reminders. CLICK HERE for the free download.

Last, but not least, here's a little time-saving tip for all your road-trip preparation…
Take your vehicle to your local Walmart for your oil change. While the pros put some much-needed Pennzoil in, you can shop for all the other things you may need for your vacation.

Now through September 9th, Pennzoil oil changes will be on Rollback. I paid $35.88 for my High Milage change compared to my normal $39.88. (Getting it changed elsewhere typically costs $46.) More money in my pocket means more road trip souvenirs!

Where are you heading this summer? Is your vehicle road ready?