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You want your car to have fun on a road trip too, and not have the whole undertaking age it like the Presidency ages people. Preparation is your car’s best friend here, so we rounded up ten things you can do that will greatly increase your chances of coming back in the car you left in. Not listed but obvious: take a selfie on your trusty steed’s hood before you leave. Duh.

1. Prep the exterior

Keep her looking pretty by using a spray-on protective film like 3M’s paint defender spray to prevent dinging the paintwork, and a glass-friendly equivalent, like Rain-X, for the windows. Also, use painter’s tape along the chassis edges — especially if you’re going to kick up rocks on dirt roads. Which we hope you are.

2. Check your fluids

Driving around at moderately high RPM all day long with old oil sludging up everything is just asking for trouble, so be sure to change it before you take off. This is also a good time to check your coolant level, windshield washer fluid, and glove compartment jerky.


3. Air up your tires

It seems obvious, but… a lot of cars have two different recommendations for tire pressure — one for low speed, and one for high. Go with high speed. Not only will it make your car feel better, but it’ll also help the tires wear more evenly.

4. Road trip-proof the interior, too

Scotchgard your seats and carpet because your friends are probably slobs who will spill stuff (not you, never you). All-weather floor mats are good if you’re going to end up somewhere likely to get you wet (beach/ski resort).


5. Hit the power wash

If your trip involves a beach, sandy desert, or salted icy roads, use a power washer now and again to get dirt and other contaminants out from hard to reach areas under the car, like inside the wheel wells, etc. It’s the car equivalent of flossing… meaning you never do it but really should and there’s no car dentist to guilt you.

6. Know your enemy

Keep an eye out for exceedingly awful vehicles. Gravel trucks are the devil, effectively sandblasting the front of your car for as long as you follow them. If you can’t get around, because it’s a one-lane highway, try to keep another vehicle/sucker in between to shield as much debris as possible.


7. Wax it up

A freshly slicked car is way harder for bugs to cling to, and no road trip is complete without a somewhat decent Mr. Miyagi impression.

8. Don’t park behind the scary motel

There’s no need to stay at the Hilton every time, but if you have to stop for the night, make sure you’re parked under a light, preferably right by the motel’s front desk. In fact, just always avoid the scary motel, ok?

9. Avoid traffic

The simple fact is that the number one threat to your vehicle is the other drivers on the road. Use apps like Waze, which communicates where the traffic jams are via the desperate communications of the already trapped, to avoid sharing space with too many of them. Plus, less traffic = more fun.

10. Don’t skimp on gasoline

It is car food, after all. Cleaning additives vary greatly from one station to the next, so go with top tier, especially as you’re driving down the highway for long stretches of time. It will help keep your engine’s internal bits clean.


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