Road Trip Checklist

Reader Question: I taking a road trip with my family, is there some kind of checklist or schedule I should ask my mechanic to perform before I hit road?

Dear concerned owner,

I get at least one customer a week who brings their car to shop and says, "I'm going on an out-of-state road with the family, would you please look my car over and make it is road-worthy"? My reply is, "Sure, we can do that, when are you leaving?" You would be surprised at how often hear, "Tomorrow."

Now I know that during the planning stages of an out-of-road trip, some things could possibly be overlooked till the minute, but you would think at least one thing would have come mind: reliable transportation! Breaking down on a road trip a carload of college buddies and a cooler of beer used to be fun, but for most of the normal driving public, breaking down on side of the road can be a nightmare. So, if you are planning road trip, place a good deal of emphasis on preparing vehicle. Allowing your mechanic ample time to inspect and your vehicle properly should be your number one priority.

Some ideas for vehicle road-worthiness be:

1. Take your car to your regular mechanic'shop two weeks prior to your trip. Hopefully you have a mechanic that you know and trust. This should NOT be a quick-type place, but a full service repair shop or new car dealership. I personally would not want to test the workmanship of a mechanic on a road trip with my family. Two weeks prior? Definitely. Give your mechanic time to make necessary repairs, and some room for adjustments. If your mechanic finds and repairs parts on your vehicle, you will want a week or "break in period" to test the fix(s) before you hit road. In most cases, if anything goes wrong after major repairs, it will be in the first 100-200 miles. Give yourself enough to feel confident that the repairs made will not be an issue soon as you get outside your city limits.

2. Make sure that you have the following in your car before you leave:
Flashlight, pen, paper, and disposable camera. Just in case an accident, take lots of pictures of the scene, the other involved (including license plate), the other driver , and else in their car, etc. Take pictures of the road condition i.e. was it wet, was there an obstacle in the road that could caused the accident, was it at a intersection with a stop sign traffic light, if at night was it lit and well marked? business cards or contact information from anyone that could be witness, and if at all possible get them to give their to the police officer at the scene. It seems that a few after an accident the memory of small details becomes cloudy unclear to some people, and in worst cases the story of how, where, and who was involved in the accident can fabricated.

3. Take along some extra supplies that your might need while on the road. A new bottle of anti-freeze, oil, and transmission fluid could really come in handy if roadside emergency were to occur. A can of Fix-A- Flat, cables, small box of tools including screw drivers, pliers, a spare radiator hose clamps that you can get from your mechanic, roll of electrical tape, and a hand towel to wipe your should all be packed in your car. Fix-A-Flat should only be in case of an emergency and not to be used just to add a amount of air to the tires. Fix-A-Flat and other products like require that the tire be removed from the wheel, and the be removed from inside the tire and a permanent repair preformed. Caution: Some sealants are flammable and all are very messy and sticky, so will appreciate the towel to wipe off your hands.

4. A few recommendations that will aid in comfort are: Install new wiper blades and fill up the bottle with windshield washer solvent to help keep the clean (seems wiper blades are never thought about unless it raining). Bring along sunglasses, a few of your favorite cd's or cassettes, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, bring a jacket and rain gear just incase you have to be your vehicle for an emergency situation. A cell phone is a helpful tool to have on your travels, but make sure you will reception in the region you are traveling in, and don' forget the battery charger. Some cell phone companies roadside assistance for its customers, call your cell service provider and see if this service is offered.

Have your mechanic perform all regular scheduled maintenance your car before you head off on your travels, and make sure tell him where you will be going. If I know that you are going be traveling in a hilly, snowy location pulling a small trailer would make sure to inspect items that would be more prone cause trouble in that kind of situation. Traveling through a arid dessert would require a different inspection than a trip. For a list of maintenance items I feel are important perform at certain mileage intervals check out our Website

I talk about other problems like this in my eBook What Mechanic Doesn't Want You to Know --An insider look the car repair industry Click here read more. One Sale Now!