Get Your Car in Road Trip Shape

Tips and things to check before you hit the open road with our fall travel guide to five New England road trips.

road trip preparation tipsPhoto via Thinkstock

Breaking down is no fun, especially on one of New England’s hilly, curvy back roads. Save yourself the headache: AAA Southern New England’s public affairs and traffic safety manager John Paul (aka the “Car Doctor”) tells us which parts to check before turning the key.


Dead batteries and flat tires are the most common reasons AAA goes out for service, Paul says. Check your battery for corrosion and make sure it starts the engine quickly. If it’s older than three years, consider a new one.

Tire Pressure

Proper tire pressure is essential for good handling and safe steering response, but it also saves fuel. Inflate all four tires to the recommended cold pressure.

Vital Fluids

Engine oil, coolant, steering fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid—you’ll need all of these topped off. Be particularly vigilant about checking oil, as many performance cars tend to consume it at higher rates. Some newer cars don’t have dipsticks, so you’ll need to follow instructions from the car’s on-board computer. If you don’t know how to check the levels, see a mechanic.

Windshield Wipers

“If you’re driving to the White Mountains and you’ve got a car with lousy windshield wipers, you don’t want to be stuck with them,” says Paul. This is New England. There’s always a storm brewing. Get a fresh pair.

Headlamps and Taillamps

Do all your lights, brake lamps, reverse lamps, and turn signals work? Have someone take a look for you. Also, use your headlamps (or daytime running lamps, if you have them) on shaded back roads and long stretches of open passing lanes to make sure other drivers can see you.


Once your car is in road trip shape, check out our fall travel guide to five New England road trips.