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How to Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip

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Planning on going camping or maybe a road trip? Check your car to make sure that it is in good running condition. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for an extended drive can save you headaches down the road.

A picture of an old bright orange classic Volkswagen van loaded with surfboards on its roof, parked beside a beach.

1. Check all your fluids - oil, brake fluid, steering pump fluid, windshield washer, transmission fluid, and coolant. You may want to change your engine oil if you're going on a long trip. Check your owners manual to see when each fluid needs changing.

2. Check all your lights - including any warning lights on your dashboard. You may want to resolve any dashboard lights before your trip.

3. Check your windshield wipers, horn and tire pressure - including the spare.

4. Check the engine belt and hoses - if they are cracking or loose or show visible wear, it may be time to replace them.

5. Check the engine air filter - a clogged filter reduces fuel economy.

6. Clean out your car. Unnecessary clutter just gets in the way and hauling it burns more fuel.

7. Ensure you have all your documents with you, especially if you're traveling out of country - don't forget your updated insurance papers.

8. Prepare an emergency kit. Include a first aid kit, basic tools (screwdrivers, pliers, sockets), wheel jack and tire iron, jumper cables, road flares, reflective jacket, extra blankets, gloves, phone charger, fire extinguisher, and flashlights.

9. Consider purchasing a road assistance service like CAA or CRA (Castrol Roadside Assistance). While they may be expensive, it may pay for itself if you were to run into trouble.

10. As always, preventative maintenance is key to making sure you avoid unnecessary troubles. If you think there is anything wrong with your car, you hear any sounds, you feel any unexpected vibrations, or smell any odours, book your appointment and have a mechanic inspect your vehicle. Even if your car is running well, doing regular maintenance flags any issues that may arise and leave you stranded on the highway when you least expect it.