A road trip has potential to be the best experience of your life - or the worst. A lot can go wrong when it's just you and the open road, especially in middle America. Get yourself and your vehicle primed and prepped so you're not stranded on the side of the highway, gas can in hand, waiting for a stranger to give you a lift to the nearest service station.
Points of inspection
Bring your car to a service shop to ensure that all the parts are working properly. Have a mechanic do a full inspection inside and out, starting with the tires. This maintenance includes putting air in the tires, patching up any holes and replacing ones that are worn down. This is also a good time to make sure you have a spare tire - you never know when you're going to run over some broken glass miles away from home.
"You never know when you're going to run over some broken glass miles away from home."
Mitigate other risks by hitting all of the car's pain points. CarMD compiles a list of the most common vehicle failures. In 2014, the top repair signaled by a check engine light was replacing oxygen sensors, which cost an average of $259.30. Replacing catalytic converters and inspecting loose fuel caps were second and third on the list. Swapping the catalytic converter with a new OE catalytic converter cost upward of $1,157, which could put a real damper on a cross-country adventure. Other common malfunctions involved spark plugs, ignition coils, thermostats, fuel injectors, mass air flow sensors and exhaust gas recirculations.
Rules of the road
If one or several of these car parts is on the fritz, repair it before you go on your trip. Each of these can leave you car-less and unhappy during the supposed best journey of your life. Get an oil change, wash the car and do an inspection the day of the trip. Make sure the headlights are working and that all is well so you can avoid tickets and car troubles.
Pack efficiently to maximize comfort when you're behind the wheel or relaxing in the backseat. Then, it's time to put that baby in drive and live up every second of this sojourn. Pump the brakes if you think you're ready for the open road. You still have to take care of your safety. Road Ready Cases explained that in addition to maintenance, you should pack a few extra toiletries, a first aide kit and some games for your journey.