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Road Trippin’ – A Guide to Road Trip Essentials and Planning

It won’t be long until winter passes and we’ll all be back behind the wheel for a new year of events and road trips – so you’d better get to work! The off-season provides plenty of time to tweak, tune, upgrade, and dial in your hot rod so when the warm weather rolls in, you’ll be ready to hit the road.

It seems that there are more road hot rod road trips and destinations every year, so we thought it would be an ideal time to reach out to some industry manufacturers to learn about the offerings available for make road trips safer less stressful. These are some road trip essentials that can help prevent on-the-road mishaps or make potential roadside repairs easier. We also talked with a number of veteran road warriors for their recommendations on what to pack, what to expect, and how to prepare to rack up some miles in your hot rod.

With a number of road trips under our belts, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected, take your time, enjoy the scenery, and take in the stories and people you’re going to meet. Get ready and get on the road!

Mychanic | Smart Cables |

Road Trip Essentials, mychanic, jumper cablesOne of the most handy tools to have stashed in any vehicle has always been a set of jumper cables. Mychanic has Road Trip Essentials, mychanic, jumper cablestaken the usefulness of cables and combined them with modern technology for a much improved and safer way to boost a battery.

To ‘start’ with, there is reverse polarity protection so you don’t have to worry about sparks flying if the cables are connected wrong. Instead, the monitor will beep and flash to alert you to a backwards connection. Next is a convenient volt meter that will show you if the battery is dying, dead, or if there’s another issue. The cables are plenty long at 12-feet and are made from 6-gauge, 100-percent copper cable.

Viair | Pump it Up |

Road Trip Essentials, air compressor, viairBeing able to make tire pressure adjustments or add air while on the road can be a hassle if it requires you finding an operational air pump at a gas station. VIAIR has a helpful solution with their popular 87P portable tire inflator. The 87P is compatible with all 12-volt vehicles, making on-the-road tire pressure adjustments fast and easy.

This small, powerful, portable tire pump is capable of inflating a 31-inch diameter tire to 60psi! Simply attach the heavy-duty clamps to your vehicle’s battery and connect the screw-on tire chuck to the valve stem. Tire pressure can be monitored using the gauge incorporated into the top of the unit, plus there’s a useful LED to shine a little light on the job at hand.

Eddie Motorsports | Mount it Right |

Road Trip Essentials, Eddie MotorsportsHaving a fire extinguisher within easy reach should be high on the list of essential road trip equipment. The key is to have it easily accessible, not packed in the back of the truck or rolling around on the floor.

Eddie Motorsports manufactures a series of great-looking quick-release extinguisher brackets. The brackets are CNC machined out of 6061-T6 aluminum and are available with a polished, brushed or a wide variety of Fusion coated finishes. Eddie’s brackets are designed to be mounted in any position and release the extinguisher with a simple pull of a stainless steel quick-release pin. Two sizes are offered to secure a 2.5-pound (3-inch OD) extinguisher and a smaller unit for 1-pound (2.75-inch OD) extinguishers.

AO Coolers | Keep Cool |

Road Trip Essentials, AO CoolersHaving your cruiser prepped and checked before a road trip is paramount. However, you also need to take care of yourself and co-pilot. This means having a couple healthy snacks on board as well as water and other liquids. To keep these supplies cool and fresh, AO Coolers has you covered.

AO Coolers offers a line of heavy-duty soft-sided coolers which are guaranteed no never leak or sweat. The inner insulation is ¾-inch thick high-density, closed-cell foam that will hold ice for 24 hours in 120-degree heat! Thanks to the soft exterior, you won’t have to worry about scuffing your leather seats or scratching your painted surfaces. The high quality TPU liner is extremely durable and AO backs this up with a lifetime guarantee against leaks.

Summit Racing Equipment | Cover it First |

Road Trip Essentials, summit, fender coverWhether you’re checking the oil and belts in the morning before hitting the road, or on the side of the road investigating a strange noise under the hood, be sure to take a few seconds to use a fender cover. Generally, you carefully lean over the fender, but there’s a good chance of scratching, dinging or getting nasty fluids on your paint.

Summit Racing offers heavy-duty fender covers that will protect your paint and front end. The heavy-duty protective covers feature a durable, yet soft, leather-grain vinyl outer layer with a urethane underlayment that won’t scratch your paint, shed foam, or slip off the fender. Each cover measures 34-inches long by 25.5-inches wide and is easy to fold up and pack in your hot rod.

Flaming River | Kill it for the Night |

Road Trip Essentials, battery disconnect switchFor road trips with overnight hotel stays, a theft deterrent switch is always a good idea to have on your rod. Killing the power to your starter and entire vehicle is a good way to stop a would-be thief, not to mention that it adds a nice safety touch while your vehicle rests.

Flaming River offers a system that allows you to kill the power across the entire vehicle through a tiny activation switch that can be mounted (and hidden) within easy reach of the driver. The Electro Wizard Battery Disconnect Switch uses a passive magnetic solenoid that can easily handle up to 250 amps continuous. The main solenoid, which is sealed and waterproof, mounts close to the battery and is simple to install. You’ll be able to disconnect the vehicle power giving you a sense of security overnight.

Speedway Motors | Pressure Check | speedwaymotors.comRoad Trip Essentials, tire pressure gauge

One of the most important things to check every day before hitting the road is the tire pressure. Speedway Motors recommends their heavy duty, liquid-filled tire gauge for the road. The mechanical gauge is built to last with a steel case and an easy-to-view 2.5-inch display. There is a 12-inch hose with an integral bleeder to ease getting the pressure of each tire just right. The gauge is available in three pressure ranges: 0-15, 0-30 or 0-60psi. Compact, durable and accurate – just what you need to have while on the road!

New Port Engineering | Clean Wipes |

Road Trip Essentials, new port wipersOne important component on your car that never receives much attention until you need it is the windshield wiper motor. It’s one thing when you get a couple sprinkles driving home from the local cruise night, but when you’re running through a rain storm for several hours, it’s not only annoying, it’s downright dangerous!

New Port Engineering has been developing wiper drive motors and systems for 30 years. Their Clean Wipe Motor technology is available for classics to street rods, muscle cars and trucks. Their all new wiper motor will bolt in place and provide quiet, smooth operation including two different speeds (and an optional intermittent) along with self-parking technology. To complement their wiper motors, New Port also offers wiper arms, blades, extensions and other accessories to update your vehicle’s wiper system. Plan ahead – you’re going to get wet sometime, so you should be prepared!

HybridLight | Monkey Lights |

Road Trip Essentials, gas monkey garage, flashlightA flashlight is another one of those top road trip tools to have on hand. Rather than worry about battery life, HybridLight offers a number of solar-powered flashlights that are extremely bright and durable. Recently, they teamed up with Gas Monkey Garage to produce a limited-edition package containing three useful lights and more.

The Gas Monkey Garage Pro Kit contains the Mammoth 400-lumen multi-light, the versatile Journey 160 (both of these items can charge your mobile devices), and the sturdy 75-lumen Headlamp. As a bonus, this kit is supplied with a Micro-USB cord to rapidly charge your lights or can be charged by solar power as well. Normally the kit is $129.95 but for Goodguys members, the Gas Monkey Kit is just $99.

Cal Car Cover | Low Lift |

Road Trip Essentials, car jackAchieving the perfect low stance is a primary goal for many rodders. Riding low is simply cool – that is, until you have to change a flat or perform some other under-vehicle fix. Bottle jacks are compact and convenient but are only useful as a wheel chock on a lowered rod.

California Car Cover has an effective solution with their Low Profile Scissor Jack. This billet machined assembly is designed to lift most any lowered hot rod and measures only 1.5-inch high! The jack has been tested up to 2,000-pounds and will raise a vehicle up to 6.5-inches. Not only is the jack simple to use, but it’s also easy to store in tight confines.

Snap-on | Jump, Charge and Light |

Road Trip Essentials, snap on, snap-onYou can’t be prepared to handle everything a long road trip may bring, but with Snap-on’s Compact Engine Starter/USB Charger and Light, you’ll be ready for a lot! At under 7-inches long and less than 3-inches around, the Engine Starter is easy to pack and will be ready to get you out of a low-battery jam.

After being charged through a wall or vehicle DC outlet, the strong lithium Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (NCM) battery will be ready to crank over the engine by connecting it to the battery terminals. For safety, there is built-in reverse polarity protection as well as thermal runaway and short circuit protection. If needed, there is also a built-in USB port to charge other devices as well as a bright LED work light.

Element | Just in Case |

Road Trip Essentials, Element, flairOn road trips, it’s often said that if you have an extra part with you, you’ll never need it. Hopefully that holds true for a fire extinguisher as well! It doesn’t matter how small your roadster, coupe or truck cab is, you should always make room for a fire extinguisher and in the case of this compact unit from Element, there’s just no excuse not to have one in your car.

The Element extinguisher stands less than 12-inches tall and weighs just over a half pound, yet will discharge almost five times longer than a traditional extinguisher. Instead of pressurized gas, a chemical reaction releases a fire extinguishing agent that makes no mess, is non-toxic, and does not rob breathing oxygen. The Element is not affected by extreme temperature, humidity, or harsh environments and will never expire!



Ron Meis

• If I could take one tool, it would probably a 12-volt tester. I actually carry a fairly good selection of tools, fuses, wire and connectors, assorted bolts and screws, extra taillight bulbs, and an extra serpentine belt (or at least the part number).
• For yourself, be sure to take a first aid kit, aspirin, phone charging equipment, your meds, a jacket, hat and sunglasses.
• Traveling with and meeting people on the road is the real reason to go. It is just so much more fun in your rod. As far as the road rash, I believe cars were meant to be driven.


Bret Voelkel

• My wife Sharon and I do a couple organized road tours every year along with a number of events. I rarely answer my phone on these trips…it’s private thinking time for me and a chance for us to have several uninterrupted days of conversation together.
• I’ve blown up engines, slung cow dung up the side of the car, busted windshields, had the gas tank fall out of the car at a stoplight, and much more. I once had a stick go through the aluminum radiator on my Pro Street ’70 Mustang on I-70 just west of Denver at an elevation of 13,000 feet. We coasted down the mountain and rolled to a stop in the parking lot of the Denver Aluminum Radiator Repair Company. (I have always had good luck on these tours!)
• Pretty much any destination is a good one if you are in a hot rod with your spouse or a good friend. I like staying off the Interstates as much as possible, finding little mom and pop restaurants and driving through small downtowns. Life is best viewed and lived on two-lane roads.


Greg Weld

• It’s impossible to plan for what possibly will go south on a road trip. Anything that moves, rotates, or is electrical is subject to absolute complete failure at the worst possible time. We all know that if you have a spare… you’ll never need it.
• Traveling in a group is the best protection you can have on a road trip. Someone in the group usually will have a tool you don’t – or the knowledge needed. And frankly, road trips are just more fun with more people.
• Driving your hot rod is the best way to have fun with it. Knowing that a road trip is coming up will force you to fix all the little items you know need attention. Prep the car the best you can and just go – you’ll be happy you did.


Deane and Robin Wilson

• Breakdowns happen, but you can’t let it spoil the fun. We were driving near Toronto, Canada, and my transmission pan hit a piece of metal in the road. I pulled over immediately and saw my tranny fluid leaking out like a faucet. Soon, a new Hemi Challenger pulls behind me and the guy is wearing an auto mechanic shirt that said Andy’s Transmission. His shop was 1,000 feet ahead and he had a pan that fit!
• Take a set of spare keys and keep on your person, not the car! I take some trail mix, my iPod and my wife’s Kindle and her knitting. Make sure your companion has what they need and make stops they suggest. It makes the journey an enjoyable joint adventure.
• Remember, it is not a race. Don’t try to log too many miles in a day or force yourself to drive 90mph – you’ll be too stressed and miss too much. You won’t believe the wonderful people you’ll meet along the way, the stories and the insight on what other areas of our country are like. Just go!


Gene Welch

• I followed a Road Tour friend’s advice and installed cruise control. For music, I had been using Pandora, but switched to satellite radio for the last Road Tour, it worked out better.
• You’ll never have more fun and appreciate your car more than when you drive it every day for a week or two. Going on a Goodguys Road Tour means there are support vehicles and a lot of gearheads to help out just in case something happens. I’ve had two flat tires on road trips, so the one tool I always take is a lug wrench, with a jack and spare tire.


Mark Stielow

• The one tool you need is a cell phone, plus I use it to listen to Pandora. I travel with a small tool kit and a GM scan tool to look for any trouble codes within the engine. For safety I always have a fire extinguisher in the car.
• With modern engines and the suspension parts available today, old hot rods are very reliable. Make sure you shake the car down well and check for loose fasteners and any leaks. If you build it well, then it should be fine.

Todd Ryden is first and foremost a car guy and admits to how lucky he is to have been able to build a career out of a hobby that he enjoys so much. He’s owned muscle cars and classics, raced a bit and has cruised across the country. With over 25 years in the industry from the manufacturing and marketing side to writing books and articles, he just gets it.