Navigating Common Car Repairs: 7 Issues You May Encounter on a Road Trip

Having a road trip by car is a perfect way to spend a short weekend or a long vacation. Even if you don’t own a car, or can’t use it for some reason, services like the app make it possible to rent a set of wheels wherever you go. However, a car is a complex mechanism, and at some point, it can break down.

Even worse if the problem occurs on vacation. As a result, you run the risk of not reaching your desired destination, or getting stuck away from service centers. Fortunately, many of the failures are not too serious, while others can be avoided with simple actions. Let’s take a look at the most common automotive problems you may encounter while driving and how to fix them.

“Check engine” error

The dashboard serves primarily to monitor vehicle speed, engine revs, fuel level, and coolant temperature. Its second purpose is to show the driver that something went wrong. Yes, understanding warning lights allows you to see possible problems. One of them is the “Check engine”.

The engine icon appearing on the dashboard is the most common problem in cars and trucks. The indicator may light up erroneously due to driving style or when an error is found in the motor’s electronic control unit. When one of the sensors fails or gives an error due to a breakdown, the “Check engine” lights up.

Continuing riding with this icon on the dashboard is most often possible, as more than 200 small errors can cause it. However, it’s better to visit the nearest diagnostic station to find out the reason for this error.

Low battery 

There is nothing worse than not being able to start a car after stopping on a highway far from the city. Indeed, imagine picking up a 7 seater car hire in Brisbane and heading out to explore the Australian Outback with your family. And after overnight parking, you couldn’t start the engine due to a low battery. This is not what you expect when you rent a car for 7 people and are planning an exciting ride. However, what to do if such an issue appears? 

So, car rentals usually include breakdown assistance and may jump-start the dead vehicle upon request. If you travel by your personal car, check the battery condition from time to time. As a rule, it works for 3-4 years, after which it must be replaced. Also, don’t forget to recharge it before setting off, and clean the terminals to avoid potential problems.

Fuel supply, injection, and ignition problems

In ideal situations, the engine runs when the air mixes with the fuel without residue and burns out in the chamber. However, often misfires in the ignition system give the driver a lot of problems on the road. In this case, the car starts to vibrate strongly, while the “Check engine” icon doesn’t light up. 

If you encounter this problem during a road trip, drive to the nearest service station. At the same time, don’t move faster than 40-50 miles per hour in such a situation so as not to cause a more serious breakdown.

Flat tire

Punctures become less common when cruising on highways. However, the quality of access roads to small towns, especially those located in the mountains or near lakes, is often unpredictable – tires can be easily damaged on a bumpy road full of sharp stones. So, before you go on a road trip, make sure you have a spare tire in the trunk and the necessary tools to install it.

Also, checking tire pressure should be among your essential car maintenance procedures before hitting the road. This is important because both too low and too high levels have a negative effect on driving comfort, increase braking distances, and lead to faster tire wear.

Engine overheating 

The phenomenon of motor overheating is not uncommon during prolonged operation in hot weather. However, a well-maintained engine cooling system won’t allow overheating, no matter how long you drive without stopping. Often, leaking antifreeze causes this problem.

A cracked cooling radiator, a broken water pump, or a damaged coolant reservoir can cause leakage. What to do to avoid this? So, check the performance of the system and examine the engine compartment of the car for wet spots in advance. Also, make sure the coolant level is adequate.

A small leak in the system may not be noticeable and the vehicle may lose coolant gradually. Therefore, take a small amount of antifreeze with you to top up if necessary. Keep in mind that you need to wait 20-30 minutes after stopping the car to safely unscrew the service cap of the coolant reservoir. Otherwise, you may burn your hands.

Alternator failure

A broken alternator will be a significant problem in the long haul. It drains the battery, and once on the side of the road, the driver can’t continue on his way. Alternator brushes are a common cause of breakage. In this situation, light blows to the device can help the detached brushes to snap into place. However, you should still contact a service station to repair the breakdown.

A fully charged battery won’t last more than 40 miles without a working alternator. Therefore, pay attention to the dashboard of the car to see the breakdown in advance. The first sign of a faulty alternator is the battery icon which doesn’t disappear after starting the engine.

Brake failure

An actively working brake system is subject to wear and tear over time. For this reason, put safety first and check the condition of the brake pads, cables, and fluid level before riding. If you notice a screeching or creaking while driving, stop the car and check the condition of the brake system visually. As a rule, worn pads or brake discs are the most common cause. In this case, drive slowly to the nearest service station and repair the damage. You can gently apply the handbrake to slow down if necessary.

A road trip is supposed to leave pleasant memories, and car performance plays an important role in this. Thus, service your vehicle regularly to avoid problems, and if traveling with a rental car, choose a reliable company. Hopefully, you won’t have to use our repair guide on your journey but it may come in handy for quick car self-diagnostics.

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