Summer Vacation Checklist

If you’ve ever planned a lengthy vacation with the family, you know the stress that comes with it. From double checking your own luggage, quadruple checking your kids’ luggage to making sure you packed all the necessary documents. But don’t forget about the most important checklist: your means of transportation.

You can do all the preparation in the world, but your entire vacation can be foiled with a vehicle breakdown. Even if you drive it every day, vacations have a different impact on your vehicle than your daily commute. Here’s a list of everything you should check before your vacation.

GPS System

Smartphones usually come equipped with their own GPS system. If not, you can definitely find one on its app store. But these apps run off your phone, driving up data usage and might not function in unfamiliar regions where your service provider lacks service. Unless you’re a map guru, consider purchasing a GPS navigation system— such as a TomTom or Garmin—so you don’t end up stranded without phone reception or a navigation system.

Engine Oil, Lubricants & other coolants

Check your current oil levels and when you’re next oil change is due. Most oil changes are done after a specific amount of miles. There is a good chance you could meet your oil change milestone while you’re traveling. Consider taking the necessary tools needed to make a quick pitstop and complete the oil change along the way, or take your vehicle in beforehand and get the oil changed a little earlier than needed to avoid problems.

Also, consider the other lubricants under the hood that keeps your engine properly functioning. These tend to last significantly longer than motor oil, so if your car is on the newer side, you’re in the clear. But if your car is approaching that 100,000-mile mark, or has surpassed it without a check-up, definitely measure these levels before your trip.


Summer heat can cause corrosion to accumulate on your battery. In addition, the vibrations during everyday trips and your upcoming road trip could help to cause multiple problems along the way. Use a wire brush to remove built-up corrosion and make sure the battery is secured to its mounts.


Check to make sure your tires are not too worn for the trip ahead and have the proper air pressure. Worn tires can blowout at any time and low-pressure can affect your fuel efficiency, increased heat while traveling can cause a blowout. In addition, make sure your tires aren’t wearing abnormally as this could be a sign of a much-needed wheel realignment.

Belts & Hoses

These are made of rubber and become worn rather easily, especially while under the immense heat of your engine and recent summer temperatures. If you find any wear and tear on the belt or weak points—such as bubble—in your hoses, replace them. A blown belt or hose is a vacation nightmare and easily preventable. Consider buying a hose patch kit that acts as a quick fix to get you to a nearby repair shop.

Emergency Kit, Jacks & Spare Tire

Always check the spare tire, make sure your jack is properly functional and always carry an emergency kit in your car. Make sure your emergency kit includes enough water for everyone, flares, weather appropriate clothing, non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.

Check the load capacity

You read your owners manual right? Well, you should. Pull that back out of the glove box and check the load capacity of your vehicle. Your family will have tons of luggage for vacation, especially if it’s a few weeks long. A vehicle operating with an oversized load will have poor fuel efficiency, it’s very hard on the vehicle and could lead to breakdowns. You might have to remove unnecessary luggage or heavier objects you have stored in your vehicle daily.


Check your brake pads and lubrication before and during the trip. The last thing you want is your brakes to go out, especially if you’re traveling through the Rockies. A brake malfunction could be deadly and is easily preventable with a quick checkup.

Take the car out for a test-drive

Turn off the radio, maybe even the air conditioner and drive in complete silence. Listen for anything that sounds abnormal in your vehicle. If something seems out of whack, take your vehicle in for a tune-up

Whether you’re a novice or a vehicle guru, even the best DIY mechanic can miss a much-needed fix. Bring your car into Shadow Lake for a thorough inspection to make sure your vacation is smooth and safe.