Whether it’s to the beach for a summer getaway or to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the holidays, millions of Americans take road trips every year.
However, a road trip can trip you up if car problems arise. Roadside assistance services respond to millions of calls every year from stranded motorists.
Here are recommendations for steering clear of six common car problems you might encounter on a road trip. Hint: A lot of the recommendations boil down to preventing the problems or catching them before they become serious.
1. Your car battery quits.
Car batteries have a way of failing when you least expect it. Before you pack up the car for a road trip, get your battery checked to ensure it’s properly charged. This is especially important if your battery is more than a year old. On average, car batteries last between two and five years.
Your local Firestone Complete Auto Care can test your battery for free. Using our Early Detection Analyzer, Firestone technicians will assess your battery’s health, tell you how much “life” your battery has left, and predict the low or high temperature that might trigger battery failure. If your battery doesn’t pass the test, you should strongly consider having the battery replaced before you take your road trip.
2. You get a flat tire.
Sure, you can fix or replace a flat tire when you’re on a road trip, but who wants to do that? What’s more, who actually can? As it turns out, not very many people.
According to CBS News, 60% of people can’t change a flat tire.
Start your road trip preparations with a quick lesson on changing a tire. Then, be proactive about your tire health by ensuring your tire pressure is correct and your tires aren’t too worn.
Our tire technicians are happy to perform a courtesy checkup that includes a tire inspection. After the inspection, we can tell you whether your tire pressure needs to be adjusted, whether your tires need to be rotated, and even whether it might be time for new tires.
Depending on your vehicle and driving needs, your technician may suggest a set of DriveGuard run-flat tires. These tough tires make it possible for you to drive up to 50 miles at speeds of up to 50 MPH, even after your tire has been punctured or has lost all of its air.
3. You run into brake trouble.
Ahead of a road trip, have your brake pads, fluid, rotors, and drums checked. If just one thing is wrong with your brakes, it could endanger you and your passengers.
At Firestone Complete Auto Care, a qualified auto technician can check your brakes for free. And if something needs to be repaired, we can take care of that, too.
4. Your engine fails.
It’s critical to take care of the heart of your car — the engine.
Before you get into road trip mode, you might want to get an engine tune-up, especially if the “check engine” light is on or your engine has a history of overheating. This way, any problems with the engine can be detected and fixed before they become problems on your road trip.
An engine tune-up could lead to the replacement of air and fuel filters or replacement of the PCV valve. Whatever might need to be replaced or repaired, a tune-up can provide confidence that your engine won’t fail you.
5. Your transmission goes out.
Dashboard lights, noises in neutral, leaking fluid, and grinding gears can all signal that your transmission may be in trouble. If your transmission stops working, then you’re not going anywhere. That’s frustrating at home, but dangerous when you’re far, far away on a road trip.
A transmission check might reveal that you need to have the transmission fluid changed or the transmission system flushed. This sort of maintenance can quite literally prevent problems down the road.
6. Your car runs out of gas.
The solution to this one is simple! Fill up your gas tank well before your dashboard indicates the tank is nearly empty. Don’t assume you can make it to the next gas station (and don’t be like one of the 24 million American drivers who report that they will continue to drive after the low fuel indicator light turns on). Stop at the next gas station at the first sign of low fuel!
Drive free from car worries with the right preventative maintenance at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care, plus a few fun road trip games. In the unfortunate event that you do run into car problems on your next road trip, call 877-799-8779 for Firestone Roadside Assistance. This program offers wrecker and towing service to the Firestone Complete Auto Care store of your choice, plus on-the-spot tire changes, jump-starts, fluid delivery, and lockout help.