DIY Car Care & Basic Road Trip Kit

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DIY Car Care & Basic Road Trip Kit

Keeping You Rolling Down the Road


Car care is something we should always be mindful of, but with summer on the horizon that means busy schedules and road trips. You don’t want to find yourself stranded on the road waiting for a tow truck. Don’t fret, I have put together a DIY Preventative Maintenance Car Care and Basic Road Trip Kit Checklist that will keep you rolling down the road to your favorite destinations.

One of the most important things to know is, where to find information pertaining to your specific car or truck. The Owner’s Manual for your vehicle should be your first resource. If you do not have a manual, download it online from the vehicle manufacturer’s website, or order one on eBay.

Carry your Vehicle Owner’s Manual AND any Maintenance Records or Warranty Paperwork in your vehicle! These do you absolutely no good sitting at home when you are having a problem on the road.

HINT: Keep your records and paperwork in a folder. Cut the important information off filter boxes or other packaging, and tape them to the folder so you always know the Part Numbers for replacement. I keep my folder under the floor mat in the back of my truck.


Check Your Owner’s Manual For:

  • What Types of Fluids (type, weight, and volume) to use.
  • Explanation of Filler Cap Symbols.
  • What Types of Filters (type and size) to use.
  • The Maintenance Schedule – how often, mileage, or time.


Car Care – Preventative Maintenance:

Cursory Visual Check

  • Check for Drips or Fluid Leaks on the ground, under the vehicle and the hood.
  • Check that Windshield Wipers are in good condition – no splits, cracks, or tears.
  • Check that all Exterior Lights are in working order.
  • Check that all Interior Lights are in working order.


  • DO NOT open a Hot Radiator!
  • Wear Gloves – Oils / Fluids can be hot.
  • Check / Change / Fill
    • Brake Fluid
    • Coolant
    • Engine Oil
    • Power Steering Fluid
    • Transmission Fluid
    • Windshield Wiper Fluid
    • Always start a road trip with fresh new fluids.


  • Oil Filter
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Cabin Air Filter
  • Replace according to the manual specifications, or more often for dusty or severe usage.

Drive Belt (Fan Belt)

  • Check for Cracks or Fraying.
  • If damaged, have the belt replaced.

Tires / Wheels

  • Check the Air Pressure in each Tire – Don’t forget the AIR in the SPARE!
  • Check the Tire Tread on ALL tires. (Use a penny, place it in the tread with Lincoln’s head going downward. If the tread doesn’t reach to Lincoln’s head, the tire is worn out).
  • Check for any Damage (nails, bulges, etc.), in all tires including spare.
  • Check your Lug Nuts — be sure they are tight, but not overly torqued or rusted / corroded in place to where you cannot get them off.
  • Check that your Spare Tire Fits your car, especially if you bought the car used, or modified it in any way.
  • Make sure your Lug Wrench fits the size of your lug nuts (in case you have aftermarket rims on your vehicle).
  • Check that the jack is complete and in working order.


  • If you are hauling a trailer, make sure the trailer lights are hooked-up and working properly.
  • Be sure to check Headlamp Aim / Angle, especially if you are hauling a trailer. You may need to adjust the aim so you don’t blind other drivers.


  • Clean off any corrosion using a little baking soda and water and scrubbing with an old toothbrush. ( Be sure to wear old clothes, gloves, and eye protection. DO NOT get any battery acid or cleaner on you).
  • Make sure your battery cables are well connected.
  • If your battery is over 3-years-old, have a Load Test done on the battery to check the condition before heading out on your road trip. A lot of chain auto stores nationwide will do these test for free. No sense getting stranded.


Download this FREE Printable for your DIY Car Care!

CLICK here to Download


Here’s an example of easy Car Care that you can DIY:


Change your own FRAM Engine Air Filter

Changing your air filter is car maintenance so easy you will kick yourself if you’ve ever paid to have it done. It only takes one tool — a screwdriver that fits the screws on your Air Filter Box! Some vehicles may use clips instead of screws, a flat blade screwdriver will help pop these open. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes or less.

  1. Check the Owner’s Manual for the location of your Air Filter Box / Air Filter
  2. Be sure you have the correct size filter.
  3. Unscrew the lid on the air filter box, and remove lid.
  4. Remove old dirty air filter.
  5. Place new FRAM Extra Guard Engine Air Filter in the air filter box.
  6. Replace air filter box lid, and tighten screws.


You’re done! How simple is that? Don’t forget to recycle your old air filter. FRAM recommends changing your engine air filter annually or every 12,000 miles, but be sure to follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual.

Clean engine air filters are important for your car or truck. Think of it as the first line of defense for improving air flow and preventing dust and dirt from entering your engine and causing damage. They can also increase acceleration, horsepower, and improve overall engine performance. An easy win in my book!


You can find FRAM Air Filters at Walmart (in stores or online). The Walmart website has a search function to find the proper FRAM air filter for your vehicle — just a few simple questions.


I found it super easy to choose my FRAM Extra Guard Air Filter, order it right there online, and then pick it up at my local store, when I went in for a regular shopping trip.



Basic Road Trip Kit:

Now that you have done your car care, there is another important thing to prepare for the road trip — a Basic Road Trip Kit. It’s better to be prepared than to waste your vacation away on the side of the road, or some place waiting for your transportation to be towed or fixed. I’ve created a FREE Printable Checklist for you to download. It will walk you through putting together your handy-dandy Basic Road Trip Kit.

CLICK here to Download

Check out this short video on How To Properly Use Jumper Cables.


A Few Other Helpful Hints:

  • Carry a Map in case your GPS goes out.
  • Have a Cell Phone Charger for your vehicle.
  • Be sure the Charging Port in your car has Power to it.
  • Have a Hide-A-Key, or have someone else in the traveling party carry an extra set of keys.
  • Insist on FRAM Air, Oil, Transmission, and Fuel Filters when servicing your car, truck, or boat. FRAM a name you can trust.


What ideas do you have for easy Car Care or Road Trips?


Have a great Road Trip!







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51 thoughts on “DIY Car Care & Basic Road Trip Kit”

  1. These are definitely some helpful road trip hints. Whenever we travel far in the car, we always make sure to the car is up to date and everything’s working properly <3

  2. We just got back from an 8 hour road trip to DC. We definitely made sure we got our oil changed before we went.

  3. I don’t know where to start because you have so many great tips on car care. I have to admit that I’m a klutz when it comes to car care. My husband handles all that stuff so this post is extremely helpful for me. I do know that the owner’s manual and all that jazz is in the glove box. 🙂 Great tips and printables, Lorelai!

  4. The best maintenance on your vehicle is preventative. I change my oil, rotate the tires and check the fluids on a regular basis. Be good to your car and it will be good to you for many years.

  5. This is a really good guide. I really need to start doing my own checks before I go on long road trips. I had no idea it was so easy to replace the air filter!

  6. Great check list, my oil light is presently on. I need to make time for an oil change. I also need all of my fluids topped off and make sure my truck is ready for summer road trips.

  7. Great tips! We don’t have a car, or drive but if we did I’d be so thankful to get the tips. Will have to share with my friends who do drive!

  8. This printable is great! It’s always a great idea to keep up with vehicles by taking care of those things.

  9. Great information! I have no clue about a lot of this information. Rather than depending on my husband all the time, I should learn more about my car. And, your post today is a great start for me!

  10. That’s a helpful list! One of my worse fears is breaking down. Thankfully, I have roadside assistance, but that’s not going to help when you need water or wipes or a flashlight to even see what’s wrong. Every car should have these. And everyone should try to change their own air filter. Small things like that make a big difference, especially for your “car-related” self-esteem. 🙂 #client

  11. Such a detailed post with tons of valuable information. We always make sure to have all the right items ‘just in case’ when we take a road trip. My hubby always includes a few tools even though neither of us would know what to do if we sincerely had a problem, lol. I’m a firm believer in using maps and keeping them handy while on a trip. I’ll be sure to ask our mechanic if he uses Fram oil filters. We should know that.

  12. This is awesome information for anyone with a vehicle who is traveling and those not traveling. It is some important to get the regular maintenance on vehicles as well as keeping track of all work done. I love the printable checklists and maintenance schedules. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Really good tips!! We have our little check list that we always use. Now that my husband and son are going to be racing UTV’s, I’ll be checking it off even more often! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty

  14. These are great tips. I need to be better at checking my car. I do well with keeping it clean and organized which isn’t easy with 3 kids.

  15. This is an awesome list, especially since I am the one that tries to take care of the cars, due to my husband working all the time. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty

  16. The irony is, I’m sitting here at a garage getting my car fixed now! lol Yes, my poor baby needs a bit of work before she’s road ready again, but these are awesome tips!

  17. We love road trips and I love being prepared! Great tip about using a penny to check tire tread. Pinned for our summer road trips to the beach!

  18. These are all helpful bits of information to keep a car in top working order. I appreciate the printables too. I try and take proper care of my car, but don’t always do as well as I should.

  19. So many great ideas! Both our cars are over 10 years old, so we want to make sure we’re good to them so they hold out for us. 🙂 These tips will come in handy for our road trip from OK to SC towards the end of summer. #HomeMattersParty

  20. These are some really great tips! Definitely will come in handy with all of the warm weather coming up! Also I have a road trip kit in my car and its really nice to have around

  21. Wow.
    What a lovely post. Great way of presenting some really useful tips before undertaking a road trip. Awesome Guide I must say. For long distance car journey, all these tips are a must to keep in mind. The idea of keeping a DIY Car Care Basic Road Trip Kit is of great significance.
    Thanks a ton for sharing. Keep posting and Keep sharing.. 🙂
    Cortney G

  22. Great tips! Car maintenance is so important. I was in the car industry for 10 years and it’s amazing how many people don’t have the basic maintenance done! It helps to prolong the life of your car and if you ever plan on trading it in. #HomeMattersParty

  23. Great tips! I have an emergency kit I keep in my car at all times. Since we drive a few thousand miles every summer, I need to stay on top of things. #HomeMattersParty

  24. Other people’s jumper cables have come in handy for me (thank goodness THEY were prepared!) I need to get my vehicle ready for summer road trips, these ideas are super helpful. #HomeMattersParty

  25. wow! great tips. I think every body should check the check list before start a long journey because if you fall in a problem it may destroy your enjoys moment. thanks for share a great piece.

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