How do I prepare for a long trip?

Have your regular maintenance done

A week or so before you leave, have regular maintenance done, like oil and filter change, or routine maintenance. Specifically, ask the shop to check the air filter and change it if necessary. Changing the air filter is an inexpensive way to enhance fuel economy and performance. Also have them check the tires again. If the pressure has gone down since the last check, you may have a leak that can be fixed on the spot.

Have your repair shop check the tire pressure and adjust it if necessary

If the pressure is too low, it can cause a blowout at high speed. Also have them check the tread on the tires for excessive wear. (You can also do this yourself by placing the head of a penny into the tread of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you probably need new tires.) Be sure to have your repair shop check to see that the spare tire is inflated and the appropriate tools are available to install it if necessary.

Have the auto repair shop check the coolant

Are you going somewhere with a warmer or colder climate? Let your repair shop know so your mechanic can adjust the mixture of water and antifreeze to ensure the car is protected against temperature extremes.

Buy a road atlas or GPS

If you don’t have a current road atlas, get one. Hours and hours of expressway can get boring. Getting off the beaten path can add an entirely new dimension to your trip.

Clean out your car

The day before you leave, thoroughly wash and vacuum the car. It’s much nicer to have your trip in a clean car.

Make sure your paperwork is in order

Make sure your license, registration and insurance are all current and accessible.

Fill the gas tank

Might as well get it out of the way now. Besides, gas is often more expensive on the road.

Look at what you’ve packed

Open your suitcases and take one last look — do you really need all that stuff? Did you forget anything?

Relax!

Enjoy your trip!

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