Hitting the road with a group of friends and a stellar playlist is one of the most exhilarating things to do as a new driver. You are completely free, with an open road in any direction.

Before setting off, it’s important to go through a checklist to ensure your car is safe for the long trip ahead. Here are a few suggestions from the driving instructors at Ambitious Drivers:

•Check Your Fluids. This is a must before setting off an any road trip, whether it be a two-hour venture or a three-day haul. You should ensure your windshield wiper fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and engine oil are clean and topped up. Engine oil is perhaps one of the most important fluids on the checklist—and an easy one to check. The type of oil your car requires is generally printed on top of the oil cap. First, pull out the dipstick and wipe it off with a rag. Insert it back into the tube and pull it out a second time. Where the oil reaches on a set of hatch marks on the dipstick will determine the amount of oil in the engine. Ensure it is full and that the oil is clean.

•Test Your Windshield Wipers. If you’re leaving on a bright sunny day, you may not think to test out your windshield wipers. There is nothing more dangerous than getting caught in a thunderstorm on the highway with a broken wiper.

•Check Your Tire Pressure. Dealing with a flat tire can be dangerous and time consuming, especially on the side of the highway. With an air pump, ensure all tires are pumped to their recommended tire pressure (usually between 30 and 35 PSI.) Additionally, you should ensure you have a spare tire and that is fully inflated and rust-free.

•Ensure Your License and Insurance is Up to Date. This is especially important if you are travelling out of province or country. Ensuring your insurance is up to date will keep you and others on the road covered in the case of an accident.

•Pack a Basic Emergency Kit. You might be the best driver in the world, but there are some things, like weather, road conditions, and other cars, that you simply can’t control. Stay prepared with a basic emergency kit, including things like rags and work gloves, jumper cables, a flashlight, basic tools, and personal items like water, emergency food, and a blanket.

•Clean the Inside of Your Car. Cars get messy on road trips—it’s inevitable. Fast food, snacks, and baggage gradually spread across the dashboard and floor until the smell of stale French fries becomes intolerable. Be prepared and clean your car out before you set off on your journey.

Some of the best memories are made on road trips. Before you take off, go through our checklist to ensure a safe, hassle-free adventure. For more driving tips, or to sign up for driving courses, contact us today at Ambitious Drivers.