Iowa is nice, but eventually, most drivers feel the need to wander a bit. Whether that means just driving over to Iowa City, going as far as Chicago, or even to one (or both) of the coasts, just driving somewhere new and seeing more of the country can do wonders for your mood — that’s the case with me, anyway. Plus, it’s just nice to get out of your bubble. In any case, though, before you undertake such an expedition, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared, and I’ve put together a few tips to help you out with that.

2013 Chevy Tahoe

2013 Chevy Tahoe

The first thing that you’ll want to do is a walk-around inspection — and this is something that you can do by yourself. You should check the wiper blades to ensure that the blades aren’t cracked — they should be soft and pliable. You’ll also want to check your tires’ wear and pressure levels — keep them at the recommended PSI, and if your tread is looking low, get some new tires before heading out. Make sure that your lights are in good working order, too.

You’ll also want to perform an under-hood inspection — it’s here that some people will want to call in a professional. Make sure that all of your fluids are at the proper level; take a look at belts and hoses, too, as well as battery connections and the air conditioner. Your hoses should all be pliable and securely attached, while hoses shouldn’t be torn or cracked. Your battery connections should be clean and without corrosion.

Finally, you’ll want to take a look under the vehicle; what you’re looking for when you do this is a leak. You’ll also want to take a peek at your brakes — leaks in brakes lines are bad news, as are any strange noises when you put the pedal on the brakes.

Of course, you’ll also want to have any need maintenance performed, including an oil change, tire rotation, tune-up, and the like. And really, unless you’re a gear-head, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle inspected by a professional.