Thousands of Americans across the country are packing up their cars to get away as the summer travel season has begun.

Some of the best memories are made while on a road trip. Stories of this trip will be told for years to come, and no one wants to have that nightmare told about their flat tire or squeaky brakes.

It is always a good idea to know what insurance coverage you have on your vehicle before you take off on your adventure. Even if you know a little bit, it’s best to know where you’re covered just in case something goes awry.

Below is a checklist to complete before you put your car in reverse to back out of the driveway and head out of town.

Summer maintenance

Before you hit the road, make sure your preparation includes getting your car ready for warmer temperatures. Some simple steps can help you save time, money, and headaches during your trip:

•Consider a pre-trip inspection by a qualified technician; repairs can be more costly on the road.

•Check the air conditioning — You may want to have a professional inspect the entire system.

•A service professional should inspect the radiator, pressure cap, belts and hoses.

•Check the cooling system, and if necessary, get it serviced.

•Check the air pressure in all tires, including the spare, to make sure they are properly inflated.

•Replace ragged wiper blades.

•Inspect batteries and battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt.

•Have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear.

•Change the oil and filter according to manufacturer’s service interval specifications.

•Test your car’s interior and exterior lights.

Roadside emergency kit

Even if you’ve diligently followed all of the suggested tips for summer car maintenance, it never hurts to have a “just in case” kit in your trunk. In the event you should need it, you’ll be thankful you have it.

Your emergency kit should include:

•Screwdrivers and wrenches;

•Jumper cables;

•A jack and tire iron;


•A can of Fix-a-Flat for temporarily sealing and inflating a flat tire;

•Water for both the radiator and yourself;


•Blanket and towel; and

•Emergency flares and reflectors.

Remember, never leave on a road trip with your car’s “check engine light” or “malfunction indicator light” lit up. If the light is on, have a qualified technician take a look under the hood. 

If you take these precautions, you and your vehicle might be happier on the roads this summer.

EMILY WANG HAWKINS is a State Farm agent in Madison Park. To suggest future topics or more information, visit, or call (206) 588-0416. To comment on this column, write to