A Marine works on his vehicle at the Auto Hobby Skills Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. (Marine Corps)
Whether you’re moving from Virginia to Texas or just taking a trip to visit one of America’s beautiful national parks for free, get your car ready for the road with these important tasks:
1. Check the oil and change it if it’s time.
2. Top off all of the vehicle’s fluids — don’t forget the wiper spray to wash bugs off the windshield.
3. Upgrade your windshield wipers.
4. Check the car battery and clean the terminals — though it is best to have your car inspected and serviced by a mechanic.
5. Inspect your tires for tears or bulges in the side wall and for good tread.
6. Check the tire pressure against the suggested pressure volume in the owner’s manual.
7. Have your service station inspect your car’s brake pads.
8. Pack a climate-appropriate emergency kit. If you’re traveling through cold areas, take heat blankets, hand warmers, etc. Traveling through hot areas, pack extra shades, sun block, extra water. Always carry flares and water!
9. Check your vehicle’s load capacity by looking at the weight amount printed on the door inside the driver’s side. You don’t want to overstuff the car.
10. Pack roof-top cargo boxes correctly. Heavy loads on the roof can increase the risk of a roll over — especially when traveling on winding roads.
11. If you’re driving with kids, make sure you pack enough snacks, water, games, videos and music to keep them comfortable and occupied. There is no shame in letting them play video games the entire time — make it a relaxing road trip. You can engage with the kids once you arrive.
12. Check the car seats — the law now requires children to stay rear-facing longer and keep older children in a seat to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer. For more information, go to Safercar.gov.
13. Take a water bowl and food dish for pets — also pack a favorite toy or blanket.
14. Avoid the rush hours and ensure you get to your destination on time and with minimal stress.