If you were going to run a marathon, you wouldn't just show up on the day of the race. You would to prepare. Well, the same goes for your car. Trust us, the Arizona desert is beautiful, but the last thing you want is to get stuck walking across it when your car overheats. There are certain things that every car needs before it takes you on a long haul, so before you pack your car full of sleeping bags and travel food, make sure you take it in for a checkup. Usually, you can get the full rundown for about $75 at your local Jiffy Lube or Midas stations. Here's what you should especially look for:

  • Check the fluids: motor oil, transmission oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid and engine coolant. You can do these on your own by reading your owner's manual. As a general rule, you should change your oil every 3,000 miles.

  • Get your brakes tested. (Otherwise, you and that Texan armadillo that darts out into the middle of the road may be sorry-armadillos are messy creatures.)

  • If necessary, get new tires. Your tires are your feet on the road-make sure they're in good shape for the trip. All of your tires should have at least 1/8th of an inch of tread; if not, it's time to ditch them for new ones. Make sure your spare tire is in good shape too.

  • Check the oil filter.

  • Check the air filtration system.

  • Make sure your wiper blades are working properly.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW drive cross-country?