With summer in full swing, it’s time to take a little road trip with your closest family and friends. Before you hit the highway though, it’d probably be a good idea to ensure that your car is in tip top shape, ready to get you to and from your destination safely.

The last thing you want is to be stranded in a remote location or foreign town because your car has broken down. Taking time to perform some simple routine maintenance on your car before embarking on a road trip this summer will give you peace of mind and could save you money on repair bills.

We put together a little car prep list for your next road trip, so you don’t have to! Here are our top 10 car maintenance tips that everyone should undertake before going on a road trip this summer!

10. Test Car Battery

This might sound like a “no brainer,” but most of us take our car battery for granted. We never give it much thought until your battery dies and leaves us stranded somewhere. Do yourself a favor and get your car’s battery tested before you hit the open road this summer. Know exactly how much juice you have left, and consider a replacement if levels are low. You don’t want to have your car shut down on the side of a highway, miles away from the nearest service station. After all, who wants to pay for a tow truck? Knowing that your car battery is amped up with sufficient power will allow you to travel safely without worry this summer. It’s a small thing to check on, but could lead to big consequences if neglected.

9. Emergency Kit

One should have an emergency kit in their car at all times. However, it is especially important to be equipped with an emergency kit when going on a long road trip. The further away from home you are, the more important an emergency kit becomes. You could find yourself needing an emergency kit if your car breaks down, or if you get into an accident. Now you may be asking yourself, “What should be included in my emergency kit?” Well, the Red Cross recommends including a flashlight, waterproof matches, a whistle, antiseptic wipes, Band-Aids, tweezers, iodine, duct tape, candles or flares, and a multifunction knife (like a Swiss Army knife). You should also try to include blankets, bottled water, non-perishable food items and safety pins if possible. You’ll want to have everything you may need to take care of yourself and others around you should the unexpected happen.

8. Change The Oil

Like the car battery, most of us are guilty of neglecting the oil in our car engine. Yet when the oil in our vehicle gets old and dirty, our car simply does not function properly. If the oil burns off and the level gets too low, you will ruin your engine and your car will not run at all. Ensure that you not only have the right amount of oil in your engine, but that the oil is clean and the oil filter is fresh. It’s a simple fix, but will help your car perform well as it logs all those highway miles.

7. Check Your Tires

When we say check your tires, we mean a handful of different things. First, be sure to get your winter tires off the vehicle and replace them with a reliable pair of all-seasons. Next, check the tread on the tires. If your tread is getting low, you may want to invest in a new set before taking off on a long road trip. Be sure to also check your tires for nicks and punctures. Lastly, know how much air is in those tires! Be sure to keep your tire pressure at the required pressure level for your car. All of these checks will help to ensure that you are traveling on safe and reliable tires this summer. A tire blow out can be one of the most dangerous things to happen with a car, and changing a tire yourself on the side of a road is no fun. Taking time to inspect your tires beforehand is one of the smartest things you can do before going on a long road trip.

6. Top Up All Your Vehicle's Fluids

Engine coolant, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid and water for the radiator are all critically important in your vehicle’s overall performance. If any of the above are low, missing, or haven’t been replaced in a while, they can easily spell disaster for you on your carefully planned road trip. Do yourself a favor and bring your car into HEART to have your fluids inspected and topped up before you leave home this summer. We provide FREE windshield fluid for all vehicles, stop by today! Topping off your vehicle’s fluids is relatively inexpensive, and having your fluids t the appropriate levels will keep your car running smoothly all summer long.

5. Ensure Air Conditioning Works

If there’s one thing that anyone would be glad to have on a summer road trip, it would be solid air conditioning. Keeping things cool for you and your passengers when temperatures are scorching hot outside is a must, especially when driving with children and grandparents. Test your car’s air conditioner yourself before embarking on a cross-country trip. If you detect even the slightest problem, bring your car in and get it serviced with us! We will always be sure to do you right before you hit the road!

4. Get Your Entertainment On

While spectacular scenery is always nice, it only amuses people for so long. Today, kids get bored easily on long road trips because they are used to being constantly entertained by one electronic device or another. Stock your car with all of the entertainment needed to keep everyone who is not driving amused. Things like music, movies, iPads & iPods, Nintendo or Playstation devices, etcetera will keep kids entertained in the car for hours. Of course, be sure to also keep yourself, the driver, amused with music you enjoy on a well thought out playlist. The best way to prevent backseat fights is to keep everyone happy and distracted.

3. Check & Clean Car Headlights

Headlights are extremely important when keeping your safety in check for both day and night time driving. Check your headlights to ensure that all bulbs are working properly. Replace any bulbs that are burned out or dimming and be sure to keep your headlights clean by wiping off the plastic covers. You’ll be amazed at what a difference clean headlights make in terms of the brightness and strength of the light beam. Being able to see clearly and consistently at night is very important and can be helpful when you’re driving in an unfamiliar place after the sun has set.

2. GPS

GPS is never more valuable than when you are in unfamiliar territory and do not know your way around. On a road trip, GPS is literally your best friend. Make sure your phone has enough charge, and start your directions before hitting the road just in case you lose connection along the way. You never want to lose your way when going down a road you’ve never been on before.

1. Check Your Brakes

Nothing is more important in your car than the brakes. Whether staying local or going on a long road trip this summer, you will want to make sure that the brakes on your car are always in the best shape possible. Whether replacing worn brake pads or having the rust on the brakes scraped off, keeping your brakes in tip-top shape is extremely important for your safety. Brake pad replacements are not expensive, and the last thing anyone wants is for their brakes to go out on them when they are needed most. Checking and servicing your car’s brakes is easily the most important thing one can do before venturing off on a cross-country trip at anytime.