Is your Vehicle Road Trip Ready?

Safety on the road is the most important thing when it comes to taking a road trip. Getting your vehicle road-trip ready is the best way to ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation. You have spent months planning this road trip for you and your friends, and the last thing you want to do is spend your vacation money fixing your vehicle hundreds of miles away from home. You don’t want to embark on a journey of a lifetime with a vehicle that may break down before you get to where you are going.

Part of your planning of a road trip should include making sure your vehicle is in good condition and properly running. Take your car to your favourite mechanic or auto shop to have them perform a full multi-point inspection, to ensure everything is in proper working order.

If you go through this short checklist, you can make sure you are ready to embark on a fantastic road trip that will be stress-free, and a lot of fun.


If you are taking a spring or summer road trip, and you haven’t done so already, replace your winter tires with summer tires. These will give you better handling on the road in most driving conditions.

If your road trip will be during winter or crossing over different weather conditions (snow in the north, clear roads in the south), you will want to have all-season tires. Your mechanic will be able to steer you in the right direction.

Tire Pressure

Ensure all of your tires (including the spare) are all properly inflated to the correct PSI (as per your owner’s manual). Different weather conditions and load weight can add additional stress to your tires.


Clean Up

Give your vehicle a good thorough cleaning, both inside and out, before you hit the road.



Have your mechanic inspect your brakes to ensure they are properly working and that there are no concerns. Part of this inspection, they will also check brake fluid, hoses, lines, and brake pads. Do not forget the parking brake. Being road-trip-ready means having confidence you can count on your brakes to work as they should.

Windshield Wipers

Clean, test, and inspect your windshield wipers to ensure they are in proper working order. If they leave streaks or gaps or do not provide a clear viewing area, then have them replaced. This is an easy and inexpensive fix you can do yourself.


Be sure to fill up your windshield washer fluid before you hit the road. There will be many bugs, dirty, and filth that will occur, so be prepared. Bring along a spare bottle of washer fluid as well if there is room in your vehicle, but every gas station will have some for sale if you need it. Fill up all of your vehicle’s fluids before you head out.

Lube, Oil, & Filter

The three most common words you see in the auto repair world. They are critical to the health and wellness of your vehicle. While this is routine maintenance that should be done regularly, before a road trip is a good time to get it done, again. Visit your local mechanic before you hit the open road.


Inspect your headlights, your high beams, and your brake lights before you go on your road trip. Good visibility in all conditions will ensure you have a safer road trip. This is also a good time to clean the glass from buildup and dullness.

Air Conditioning & Heating

Part of your vehicle inspection, your mechanic should also make sure these systems are in perfect working order. There is nothing worse than being too hot in your vehicle for hours on end.


Make sure you have everything you need in order, and easily accessible in your glove compartment. Your registration, insurance information, and owner’s manual should all be easily reached when you need them. Have your insurance company contact info and an accident checklist in your car just in case.


Do you have an auto club membership? If you don’t, you should get one. If you do, make sure your membership is up to date, and you have your card handy.

Map your Way

Most vehicles now have either a GPS in them, or the owner has a GPS. These are great tools for every road trip. Make sure you update the system before you go.

Old School: having a hard copy map, or atlas in your vehicle is very useful in the event the GPS fails or if there is no service reception.

You can also have preprinted ‘google maps’ or your directions ready in a road trip planning file folder.

Check out Roguetrippers Tips for Planning a Road Trip.


Credit Card

Have an emergency-use credit card with you if you can. This is a credit card that you only use in the event of any major expenses that come up in an emergency.

Emergency Car Care Kit

Have a simple emergency car care kit in your vehicle at all times. In the event of an emergency or vehicle breakdown, you will be prepared. You can purchase these at most auto service stores or big-box retailers, or you can build your own.

Road trips are a lot of fun, and many times made more fun by the unexpected things you end up doing. Unexpected vehicle repairs during a road trip are not fun. While accidents can happen, being prepared will help to lessen the stress and worry that they cause.

Stay safe on your road trip and have fun.

 Check out our tips on Road Trip Snacks: What to Pack.



Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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