The summer road trip is a time-honored tradition upheld by loving families and cherished friends alike. Prepping for the long haul can seem fun when you’re shuffling the perfect road trip playlist, scoring the tastiest (and least messy) snacks, and planning the most scenic routes. But there’s a very serious side to prepping, and that’s making sure your car is ready for the miles ahead.

1) Pre-trip inspection: Before getting on the road for the long haul, take a short jaunt over to your local, trusted mechanic or dealership and make sure your vehicle is up to the task. A professional mechanic will verify that all vital components are road trip-worthy. This includes brakes, various fluids, tires, lighting features, and even your climate control systems. If you’re scheduled for any upcoming maintenance, get it done before your journey. Having confidence in your vehicle’s most important systems will make the adventure that much more pleasurable.

And so will having confidence in your mechanic, but how do you find a good mechanic? One way is to look for an ASE-certified shop or technician, as explained by MotorWeek’s “Your Drive” expert Audra Fordin.

2) Tire Pressure and treads: As previously mentioned, your mechanic should be checking all four corners for pressure, tread, and any damage that could lead to a potential tire failure. However, we still recommend checking all tires the day of your trip. Many modern vehicles have tire pressure readouts through one of the cabin displays, but nothing beats the tried-and-true tire pressure pen. The sidewall of your tire should indicate maximum pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI). Don’t fill it to this number. Instead, check the owner’s manual or door jam sticker for the correct pressure, as our Your Drive guest star Giuseppe Iatarola showed us. If you’re running aftermarket rubber, check any supplied paperwork that came with your tires or the manufacturer’s official website. When in doubt, ask your technician.

While you’re filling up your tires, we recommend checking the tread depth to ensure full grip on the road. You should also check the age of your tires, demonstrated by Audra Fordin. And, yes, all of these tips also pertain to your spare, too.

3) Fluids levels and changes: Most people know about the key fluids keeping a vehicle healthy, such as engine oil and coolant. Yet, there are others to consider. Transmission fluid, brake fluid and even windshield washer fluid – these should all be checked prior to your road trip and topped off when needed. Going back to our first tip, any upcoming maintenance, such as an oil change or coolant flush, should be taken care of in advance.

Oil changes can be done at home with the right tools and the proper know-how, and that includes picking the right oil for the job. Audra stopped by to give us a rundown on oil viscosity, and Logan McCombs showed us what to do with these vital fluids after the fact.

4) Battery testing: Again, this is something a trusted mechanic will take care of if you ask. It can even be done at home with the right tools and safety precautions, recommend that most people have testing done in a shop or by a battery supplier. If your battery is out of juice or close to it, don’t wait on a replacement. If you notice your vehicle is slow to start, this could be an indicator of a bad battery. If you notice a pattern of fresh batteries’ running dry after a short while, this could be a telltale sign of a larger electrical issue, such as a bad alternator.

Truth be told, checking your battery should be a yearly ritual, done as part of our recommended preventative maintenance list. And if you do find yourself stranded with a bad battery, a properly executed jump-start can get you back on the road in a pinch, as demonstrated by Logan.

5) Emergency supplies: Road trip or not, having an emergency kit in the trunk of your vehicle is a solid idea. We recommend a bag with a comprehensive first aid kit, a flashlight, roadside flares or LED markers, and a basic toolkit. Tying into the previous tip, a set of jumper cables is also a reasonable inclusion.

6) A clean car is a happy car: Before (and after) any long trip, consider cleaning out the interior of your car. Get rid of the clutter so that driver and passengers alike can be more comfortable. If your seats are too far gone, you may even consider having the cushioning replaced and reupholstered, as shown by our garage guy Dan Maffett.

After tackling the hundreds or thousands of miles of your road trip, we recommend giving your vehicle a thorough detailing. Not only does it ensure that your windows and lighting fixtures are free of any debris and blockages, but it just keeps your ride looking fresh – and after safely getting you through your adventure, we think your car deserves it.

7) Entertainment: Sometimes the journey is more impressive than the destination. Then sometimes you’re stuck in traffic or traveling at a steady pace through a never-ending loop of the same sights. Plan for the boredom and have entertainment on hand, especially for children. That means books, music, games and movies, most of which can be downloaded onto various devices. That also means having the appropriate chargers or portable batteries for said devices.

8) Plan your route: There are a number of advantages to having your route planned in advance. For starters, it lets you customize the experience. Do you want the most optimal route, the most scenic route, or the route with the most rest stops? You can decide beforehand so that everyone, especially all drivers, are aware of the plan. This also means you can give the route to any emergency contacts you may have in case you do run into any issues.

Planning your route also means you can plan your stops. Whether you need a break or want to visit a local attraction, it’s good to have options. This is especially crucial for anyone road tripping done in an electric vehicle (EV). Plan your route so that you have steady access to chargers compatible with your vehicle.

Last, by planning your route in advance you’re able to print out directions or memorize them. We know, our smartphones and GPS are our best friends, but sometimes these devices power down or lose service unexpectedly. In these instances, it’s good to have a map and/or printed directions as a backup. In either case, we recommend printing out a list of all your stops and sharing them with drivers and emergency contacts alike.

And that just about does it! Putting the proper prep into your road trip will make the journey an unforgettable one and for the right reasons. Remember to buckle up, drive safely, follow the road signs, and keep the playlist fresh!