Spring has sprung, finally. Don't let your car spring any unexpected surprises on your family's upcoming driving vacation. First off start your advance planning by getting the car cleaned up and road ready. The following is for DIYs or you may wish to spend some money on a professional detailer. Step one begin with a thorough water rinse including the undercarriage and wheel wells to dislodge leftover salt and sediment. Step two follow this with a good overall soapy wash, avoid the small usually yellow sponges, as they tend to keep small bits of sediment on their surface and causes fine scratches when washing. Instead use a very thick well made washing mitt and lots of soapy suds. Quality car soap is preferred as dishwashing soap is not ideal due to it being rather harsh, but used sparingly can be tolerated by your paint. Start at the top of the car with each step and work your way down, leaving the lower sill (below your doors) and the rims and wheels till last as they are usually the dirtiest parts and will really foul your nice soapy water quickly. Step three dry the car with towels or specialized fiber pads that do not have nylon threads in their stitching, as this will also scratch the paint or clear coat. You can test by pulling out a piece of the stitching and use a lighter to burn the thread, nylon curls up and burns quickly with black smoke, cotton burns slower, cleanly, like a candle wick. Step four any good wax product either cream or spray should now be applied, try to avoid silicone in the product, otherwise use what you like. The aim is to give some protection to paint or clear coat over the next 6 months. Step five a spray foaming glass cleaner is ideal for best results on you windows, inside and out. A product like Rain-X really helps clear rain and improve visibility when applied to front windshield, no significant need to apply to other windows but you can. Check you wiper condition and operation at this time. Step six now brush off seats and mats then vacuum up interior. You and your car will be so much more comfortable on your trip. Now focus on some pre-trip maintenance. Cars today need less overall maintenance than they did 10-20 years ago but there are certainly things that must absolutely be checked and or serviced before taking off on an extended drive. First start off by checking you owners manual and matching up the required maintenance interval with your car's current mileage, you may be in need of say a 60k or 100k service to get you really road ready and brought/caught up on required maintenance. If you do not need major service then be sure to check to see if it is time for Oil, filter, and fluid top off and perform this regular maintenance and if not needed certainly at least check all fluid levels and inspect under the hood looking at the hoses and belts. Also set your tire pressure as well as evaluating tire condition before starting out. Don't forget to check the spare tire and to look around to ensure you have the necessary tools to allow you the ability to change said tire, including wheel lock tool if required. About 80+% of all the cars I service have low pressure in the spare (no body every really checks since they are usually in the trunk or under the vehicle) or they do not have the required tools on board to make an emergency tire change. It is of course nice to have AAA to do some of these roadside repairs for you but sometimes you do not have the luxury of time or circumstances to wait for them and would be better off to do it yourself, and by following these guidelines you can dramatically reduce you risk of having a roadside breakdown that would sideline your trip and upset your vacation mindset. Time to enjoy the road.