Nothing will ruin a road trip faster than car trouble. You've probably seen at least one road trip disaster -- the couple sweating by the side of the road while steam pours from the hood of the car. Don't become them. Go through this car-care checklist before you pull out of your driveway.
- Check your tires. Get a tire pressure gauge, and visit your local gas station's air pump to make sure your tires are at the right pressure (if you're not sure what the correct pressure is, consult your car manual). Also, inspect the tires for cracks or tears. Badly worn tires should be replaced before your trip.
- Check your fluids. Make sure your oil, coolant and brake fluids are all at the proper levels. Fill up whatever fluids are low. If you're not a do-it-yourself type, have a mechanic or gas station attendant do it for you.
- Check your battery. Having a fully charged battery is especially important during the cold winter months.
- Check your brakes. While you're at the service station, ask the mechanic to check your brake pads. If they're worn, have them replaced.
- Gas up. Start out with a full tank of gas, preferably from the cheapest gas station you can find.
If you don't want to put any extra wear-and-tear or mileage on your car, consider renting a car for your trip. Just make sure to get a rental plan with unlimited mileage so you don't have to pay for any overages.