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Road Trip – Car Checklist

by Mary Chong
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I’m a big fan of the road trip especially when it comes to saving money.

For example 2 tickets from Toronto, Ontario Canada to Orlando, Florida on Air Canada will cost an average of $500 or more per ticket. Whereas the gas to drive that same distance is closer to $400 total (depending on your car of course).

A lot of people shake there heads and say no to driving long distances. They worry:
– Is my car ready for a road trip?
– How do I know if my car can make a long trip?
– What should I bring on a long road trip?

Well, rest assured we are here to help.

Before you hit the road, here’s my car checklist on how to get your car roadworthy and prepared. (If you go to a mechanic they should be able to take care of some of the items on the list for you).

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Here are 15 things to check off your list before your road trip

1. Mechanical check. Make sure the car runs well and that the brakes are in good condition. Getting your car road ready for a trip might be a good time for a general tune-up from your mechanic.

2. Check tires. Make sure your tires have adequate tread depth, tire pressure, and that they are properly aligned. Make sure that they are generally in good condition with no damage (i.e., no cracks on the sidewall etc.).

3. Check fluids. Make sure engine oil, radiator fluid/anti-freeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid are all at the proper level, and nothing is leaking.

4. Windshield wiper blades. Check the front and/or back wipers.

5. Spare Tire. Make sure the spare tire is inflated and that you have the jack/handle in the trunk and that you know how to use it. (Calculated Traveller Kim is a pro at changing a tire – her father insisted that all his girls practiced this over and over again!)

6. Headlights. This headlight inspection includes front, turn signals, side markers and brake lights. Check that they are all in good working order and that none of the bulbs has burnt out.

7. Pack an emergency first aid kit. AAA makes a great first aid kit that has everything you could need, but you could also create your own and pack it in a cooler bag or toiletry bag.

8. Pack paper maps/GPS. If you are a regular reader you would have read this article on why you should always pack paper maps. Suffice it to say that sometimes technology fails and you are without power or data. Best to go old school and have a paper map just in case.

9. Pack blankets, pillows. Having blankets is important if you are travelling in the winter. If your car breaks down, you’ll need to stay warm without having to keep the engine running.

10. Flashlight. You should always have a fully charged flashlight (this is the flashlight that I use) in the car at all times.

11. Small cooler with food, snacks and drinks.

TIP: You will be checked at the border for fruit and meat products as the same agricultural border rules apply whether you are flying or driving.

12. Cell phone and car charger. It might be prudent to pack a backup power bank.

13. Small garbage bags. To keep the car tidy and if someone gets motion sickness. I like to use an empty bleach wipe container and line it with a plastic bag.

14. Paper towel. I like to carry an entire roll. You are after all eating and drinking in a moving vehicle and there could be a spill. Don’t forget wet wipes too.

15. Start the trip with a full tank of gas. This way you can get some good distance on the road before you have to make your first stop for gas.

For more tips – check out the post on my 10 Road Trip Rules

Car Checklist

What’s on your car checklist?

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Michael Greenwood October 20, 2013 - 10:27 am

Thanks Mary I was looking for a road trip checklist like this.

Mary Chong October 23, 2013 - 11:38 am

Thanks Michael – enjoy your next road trip!

Sue August 21, 2013 - 3:05 pm

Great list Mary and perfect timing! We are heading on a road trip this weekend and there are a few key items on your list that I will be adding to mine.

Samuel Jeffery May 30, 2013 - 5:52 am

Great list and highly practical! I especially like checking your tires and spare, as that seems to be the problem I’ve had most before.

Meagan @ Life Outside of Texas May 24, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Really great list, Mary! A lot of really good ideas.

noel May 23, 2013 - 11:54 am

Hi Mary,

I’m also a fan of road trips, although things are alot more limited for me on an island. Great tips on preparing and what to bring as usual.

Mary Chong May 24, 2013 - 5:07 am

I know you won’t be able to go that far on an island in Hawaii but the views during a road trip there would be spectacular! Thanks for commenting Noel!


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