You’ve made your plans, booked your reservations, bought a new swimsuit, and set out all the toys you want to bring with you. Get ready for road trip driving – you’re going to have a blast sharing time and memories with your family.
But what if it all grinds to a halt a few hundred miles out of town? It’s hot. Your car has a problem. It’s now by the side of the road, while you’re scratching your head wondering what’s wrong.
If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a tow to the nearest station, it’s going to cost you both time and money.
Could any of this have been changed before you left home? Could you avoid common car problems and avoid being stuck by the side of the road, with your car packed and ready to go, your family now at risk?
The answer is: Yes.
Road trips often put your car under stress. You drive beyond your normal routine, have a loaded down car with more weight than you’re used to, driving in conditions outside the ordinary. And that can put your vehicle at risk, especially if you haven’t had it inspected lately.
Statistics show that the global vehicle roadside assistance market is growing steadily at about 2 percent per year. As vehicles continue to get older, they are at more risk for breaking down.
These are the most common car problems that occur when people head out on the open road.
Your car battery quits
On average, a car battery will last from two to five years. One of the most important factors in determining how long the car battery will last is the weather. All you have to do is watch the weather forecast to realize a heatwave has extended all across the US this summer. If you’re heading out on the open road, there’s a good chance you’ll drive through record-breaking heat.
A running engine is already producing a significant amount of heat underneath the hood. Now add in record-breaking heat, and the fact that your vehicle is operating many hours a day at top speed. It can be a recipe perfect for making your car battery call it quits.
If your car’s battery is more than a year old, it’s important to get it checked to ensure it’s properly charged. If there are any questions about its efficiency, it’s better to replace it before heading out on your journey.
Your tire goes flat
What happens if you’re at a campsite, or a little hotel in the middle of nowhere, and you wake up to a flat tire? One recent report stated as many as 60 percent couldn’t change a tire. Add in heat, and pulling everything out of the car to find the spare, plus the possibility of not having the right tools for the job, and you’re looking at a situation that can go from bad to worse quickly.
What’s more, heat can play havoc on your tires, especially if they aren’t in great shape. A worn tire has a much greater chance of causing a tire blowout. People don’t know how to recognize bald tires, tires with tread problems, or even if they are filled properly. They often rely on computerized data to warn them of a potential problem. Yet the last place you want a warning signal is on the open road.
Your best bet is to have your tires checked before you head out on a road trip. Have the tires rotated and balanced, and ask a trusted mechanic how well they will perform in the coming weeks as you complete your trip. If they suggest replacement, listen to their advice. It’ll cost a lot less for you to make a well informed decision at home rather than a small town hundreds of miles from home.
Your vehicle has brake trouble
Brakes are always under a lot of pressure to perform. Now throw in hours of driving each day, unfamiliar territory which means you’ll be using your brakes even more, plus the heat of the engine as it travels down the road in record-breaking heat. Yep, that can definitely impact the way your braking system performs.
Now imagine a car filled to the bring with personal items and family members. This isn’t the time you want your braking system failing.
Before you head out of town, have a reputable mechanic take a look at the braking system and make the necessary repairs to keep it working at its best. This includes an inspection of the brake pads, fluid, rotors, and drums. If something needs repair, get it replaced before you head out on your trip.
Your transmission goes out
Your transmission system is what makes your car sail smoothly down the road. It’s what moves the power from the engine to the wheels. It includes a clutch, gearbox, prop shaft, differential, and drive shafts.
While your transmission can go out unexpectedly, in most cases, it gives off warning signs long before you experience trouble. Have you experienced problems with your dashboard lights? Noises as you move your car between gears? Or maybe you’ve noticed a fluid leak when you pull out of a parking space? They are all signs your transmission is in trouble.
Catch it early and one of the easiest ways to combat potential problems is with a transmission flush. By adding new fluid, it’ll keep the entire system operating well for thousands of miles into the future.
Your engine dies
We’ve all seen drivers on the side of the road with their hoods up, smoke circling everywhere. Yep, that’s potential engine failure at its worst. If your engine dies, it’s the heart of your vehicle. Experience it on the road and you might be looking at an expensive repair bill, or even the possibility of investing in a new car.
Pay attention to the check engine light. It’s one of the most common to illuminate because it’s a warning signal for so many things. If it illuminates before your trip, be sure to have a diagnostic test performed before you leave to pinpoint any potential problems.
Fixing things early can ensure your road trip is a success from beginning to end, without having to worry about repair bills and downtime for a car that simply doesn’t work.