You love the great outdoors: the wind, the rain, the sun, the wide-open spaces. Your car, on the other hand, may not be loving it as much as you. While almost any vehicle can be made more outdoor-tough, not all vehicles were made for the rugged terrain.

So, how do you equip your ride to handle your passion for life al fresco?

Wonder no more. Here’s your guide to maintaining a car for the outdoors.

1) No Exception Service

A life that will take you off the beaten path necessitates no exception service to your car. This means you know your owner’s manual like the taste of misapplied insect repellent in your mouth. You know when you’re due for oil changes, and air filter replacements, and brake inspections, and you make sure you get it done. Or do it yourself if you’re automotively inclined. The point is, you don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere with an overheated engine because you didn’t change your filter or seized engine.

2) Spare Tire Check

Make sure your spare tire is in working order. And by that, we mean make sure you have one on you at all times, and that it has an ideal pressure with no damages.

In general, all tires should be replaced around every five years, regardless of whether or not they have been used. Also, keep in mind your spare is only meant to get you to help (i.e. the nearest service station). This means you can’t very well continue on your merry way should you need to break out a spare. It only has about 60 miles worth of life in it. You’ll need to get to somewhere that can give you an actual replacement, and this can pose a problem if you’ve really ventured out into the middle of nowhere. If this is your plan, bring an extra regular tire, in addition to your spare.

3) Gas It Up!

It goes without saying you should keep your vehicle well fueled on long trips, but for trips that could also see you on extremely long stretched without signs of a service station, you should also bring extra fuel in the car with you. Place your fuel container on a tarp in to prevent the smell from transferring to your vehicle’s interior.

4) Inside Job

Speaking of your car’s interior, any outdoor enthusiast will tell you life invariably gets messy. Keep your interior clean with floor mats and car seat covers. Both should be customised so they actually cover the area they should cover in your car. We recommend heavy-duty plastic mats for the floor, and neoprene seat covers for the seats. The plastic mats can be removed, hosed down, and returned immediately: no drying time needed. The neoprene seat covers are waterproof, sturdy, resistant to stains and dirt, and insanely easy to wash. Just take them out and toss them in the laundry. In a pinch, you can also hose them down.

5) Wax On

Just like you need to slap on the sunscreen, your car needs a protective layer. Make sure you wax it regularly (4-5 times a year). This will add a layer of protection between the elements and your car’s paint, thereby helping it stay unscathed.

6) Shock & Awe

If the crusade for awesome landscapes and epic adventures takes you over rough terrain, your car is going to need its shocks replaced more than the average person’s vehicle. While there is no exact mileage milestone that marks the exact time to have them replaced, you’ll know when the job needs to be done: you’ll drive over a bump and keep bouncing when the bump is far behind you. You’ll bottom out over a little pothole. You’ll sit on the hood of the car and feel like you’re sitting on the springy horse you used to ride as a child at the playground. These are your signs. Heed them. Compromised shocks compromise your ability to control your vehicle.

The purpose of your car is to get you where you want to go, and this is especially important to those of us who love exploring the world outside. However, you can’t do that if you haven’t maintained your car, so follow these simple tips, and enjoy the road, wherever it may take you.