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Trying to Get Out of Town? Here's How to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip

After spending three months running my small business from the back bedroom of my apartment, I can’t wait to get a little fresh air in a safe but exciting way. It’s road trip time, and I’m packing a cooler full of cream cheese and lox bagels, cut up fruit, and of course, turkey and cheddar sandwiches.

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Before I head out, though, I want to make sure my car is in tip-top shape. If you’re planning to tag along, you’ll want to come prepared. No matter how long it’s been since your last excursion, these steps are imperative—you don’t want to risk taking your trip off the rails.

Oil Change

Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil | $24 | Amazon
Bosch Premium Filtech Oil Filter | $7 | Amazon

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If your car’s been sitting in the driveway as long as mine has, it’s possible you might have missed your regular oil change. Before you take off, be sure to take your car to the shop to get it done. Or, tackle the job yourself if you’re the DIY type. It’s not always cost-effective, but it sure does make you feel good. If you have the tools, all you need is engine oil and a filter for most cars.

Tire Pressure

Illustration for article titled Trying to Get Out of Town? Heres How to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip
Image: Amazon

AmazonBasics Digital Tire Pressure Gauge | $17 | Amazon

Of course, you want to be sure that all of your tires are properly inflated before you head out. Checking your tire pressure and filling as needed will prevent blowouts, get you the best fuel economy, and prevent uneven tire wear. Nothing can ruin a trip quite like a blown out tire.

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Get Your Car Checked Out

Rain-X Washer Fluid | $14 | Amazon

Taking your car to the shop before you head out on an extended trip is advisable. This allows your mechanic to make sure your brakes, tires, suspension, and fluids are all in working order. If you’re just headed out on a day trip and feel confident, check your fluid and make sure you fill up your washer fluid at the very least.

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Check Your Spare Tire

Illustration for article titled Trying to Get Out of Town? Heres How to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip
Image: Adrian
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TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor | $58 | Amazon

This is one that many people forget! When was the last time you checked your spare tire? Just like your other tires, the spare tire can lose air. Make sure to evaluate the pressure before you depart so if you do get a flat, you have the backup you need.

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Charging Cables

Illustration for article titled Trying to Get Out of Town? Heres How to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip
Image: Diehard

DieHard Jump Starter | $160 | Amazon

In the event your battery dies, having an emergency jumper box in your car is critical to a problem-free road trip. If you leave a light on by mistake or don’t close the car door all the way, you might wake up to an unpleasant surprise. This jumper box will let you jump start your car all on your own, no other car needed. As an added bonus, this one will serve as an air compressor and an inverter that you can charge your laptop with.

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Emergency Kit

Lifeline AAA Premium Road Kit (42-Piece) | $25 | Amazon

If you don’t already have an emergency kit, an upcoming road trip might be the time to make the investment. There are loads of them available, look carefully before buying to make sure you don’t duplicate what you already have. Some have jumper cables, others don’t. Some are comprehensive, others are simple. Invest in one that meets your needs.

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Most Importantly, Have Fun!

Go forth, pay attention to your car as you drive, and have a wonderful, safe trip.

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Chaya Milchtein is an automotive educator, writer and speaker who's made it her mission empower the average driver. She believes that anything is possible and can be done on your own terms.

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