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Brianna’s Road Trip Tips

Brianna's Road Tips for
Road Trips

Getting there is half the journey. That’s what they say, right? But, if you end up laid out on the side of the freeway with smoke pouring from the hood of your car, getting there can end up being the whole journey. Take it from me, a woman who should have earned a college degree in laying on the hot pavement beneath a 28-year-old vehicle playing, “what’s that burning smell?”

Now you might be thinking, “Brianna, I don’t drive a vehicle that’s been around for both Bush presidencies, so I’ll be fine.” Maybe so! But a well-maintained vehicle is a happy vehicle, no matter the age.

Here’s some quick and easy tips for making sure your four-wheeled friend is ready for a long trek.

We’ve been living in our van, Bertha, with our two dogs in order to lead a more simple and nature-based existence. 

– Brianna, Yakima Ambassador 

Check Your Engine Oil

One of my favorite roots-rock singers, Sturgill Simpson, croons Motor oil is motor oil, just keep the engine clean.” This is some seriously solid advice. Make sure your car isn’t due for an oil change before a big trip. If it is, this is also a great time to ask your mechanic to give your vehicle a once-over. Explain that you’re hitting the road for a longer trip and you’d like them to scan and make sure nothing looks amiss. This will provide a ton of reassurance as you hit those service-less stretches of highway.

Even if you’ve recently changed your oil, it’s great to keep some on-hand in your vehicle. We like to have a whole little supply box of fluids in the back of our van – engine oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and washer fluid. Oh, and beer for when all else fails.

Check Your Tire Pressure

This is something that can be done at most gas stations for a few quarters. There are instructions directly on the air pumps and your tires will have the recommended level of PSI (pounds per square inch) written directly on the tire itself. This seems mundane, but over time, improper tire pressure can cause uneven wear on your treads and a higher potential for a flat. Another key car maintenance pointer is to have your tires rotated and/or balanced. If you’re feeling weird vibrations in your steering wheel or shaking at certain speeds, stop in to a tire shop and have them looked at. This greatly extends the life of your tires as well, which can be super expensive to replace.

Fill Up your Washer Fluid

This sounds like the most obvious thing on earth, but I felt it couldn’t be omitted after I spent 30 minutes driving down a highway with my head out the window like a Labrador because I’d smeared brown dirty snow across the windshield and had no wiper fluid to get it off.

Check Your Coolant Levels

Ever seen a car on fire on the side of the highway? Yea, that doesn’t look awesome at all. Engine overheating is super common on those hot desert highways, especially in the dead of summer. Keep an eye on your engine temperature and make sure your coolant is nice and full before you take off. If you had to choose one type of fluid to keep in your vehicle, make it coolant!

Now, crank the tunes, roll the windows down,
and hit the road! We’ll see you out there!

Hit the road and catch Brianna and the Yakima crew at REI Outessa. We will be offering a ton of tips and tricks that you won’t want to miss! 


Brianna Madia is a desert-dweller and storyteller who spends most of her time wiggling through, climbing up, and sleeping under the red sandstone rock of southern Utah. When she’s not writing lengthy Instagram captions, she can be found rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, canyoneering and exploring in the big orange van she calls home with her husband and two beloved dogs.

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