It’s that time of year again. You’re thinking about the annual summer drive down to Cape Cod, the New Jersey Shore, the beaches in Florida or the mountains in California. There’s a couple of things you need to take care of though before you load up the car with luggage and get everyone fastened into their seat-belts. A blown out tire or an overheated radiator are just a couple of things that can put a huge damper on your trip.

Get your car checked out and have all the maintenance that you need done at least a couple of weeks before your trip is scheduled to begin, that way if anything major arises during the vehicle inspection, you can have it taken care of without postponing on canceling your summer vacation.

Schedule an oil change and once-over for your car

The first thing you should do is take your car in for an oil change. During the oil change, make sure your dealer or service station does more than just change the oil. They should check your tires, both air pressure and tread level; check all of the fluid levels for your transmission, brakes, radiator, windshield, etc.; and also check all of your belts, hoses and your windshield wipers for wear and tear. Additionally, they should also check all of your lights. You don’t want to get pulled over for having a brake light out. Go over the inspection report with the auto technician and make sure that they haven’t missed anything and that you understand what maintenance work needs to be done.

Replace worn belts, hoses and tires before you go.

Do you need new belts and hoses or new tires to replace the threadbare ones that are currently on your car? Schedule that work to be done before you even leave the shop, then make sure you follow through. While tires can get a bit pricey to replace, belts and hoses are fairly inexpensive. Always replace at least two tires at a time, even if only one of them is bad. You always want your tires at the front or rear of your car to have the same tread level. So if only one of your front tires is bad, replace both that tire and the tire with the second lowest tread level and then have your tires rotated.

Get your Radiator Ready for Summer

It also makes sense to schedule a radiator flush. You don’t want to be caught halfway up a hill or in the middle of heavy summer traffic near a tollbooth with your car overheating, so get your radiator flushed out and ready for summer heat. I lived in Los Angeles for several years and every summer it was inevitable that some cars would overheat while trying to get over the hill from the San Fernando Valley into Los Angeles and they would end up either backing up traffic for miles, or they’d have to sit and wait on the side of the road for Roadside Assistance to arrive with water for their radiators. A radiator flush could have prevented most of these situations.

Check your Air conditioning too.

Low levels of freon will reduce your air conditioners efficiency and output, but it’s a pretty inexpensive fix to top up the freon levels for your car’s air conditioner. If you do need additional freon, have your mechanic double-check the ac system for a leak. It may be something that can wait until you get back from your trip to take care of, but chances are that if you do need freon, you have a leak someplace.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Now that your car is prepared for your trip, make sure to prepare for any additional emergencies that arise. Keep a flashlight and a set of jumper cables in your trunk and consider getting a roadside emergency kit. If you have AAA, make sure you have your membership card in your wallet. Also make sure that you know where your registration and insurance information is kept so you can get to it quickly in case of an emergency or a police stop. Organization will keep your mind at peace while you are on the road.

Now all you have to do is fuel up the car and enjoy your trip!