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Summer is almost here, and it feels like the right time to start planning a scenic road trip.
Invite friends and family, or bring your dog along for company, and plan a route that hits the best sights and stop-off points. If you aren’t sure how to plan a road trip route, then check out this super guide from experts. Of course, the most important thing to think about is your vehicle.
The freedom of the open road is all well and good until you run into mechanical faults and have to pay out significant maintenance costs. Even with excellent preparation, things can unexpectedly go wrong.
To make sure your road trip goes as smoothly as possible, we’ve put together this list of simple solutions to six of the most commonly reported car issues on road trips.
Problem #1: A dead car battery.
If your battery dies on the road, you could be stuck in a tricky place. Have it checked out before you begin your journey; a good garage will be able to tell you how much power the battery has left. You should also be aware that temperatures that are too high or too low can affect it. Luckily you can get it going again using either jumper cables (and someone else’s car) or an emergency power pack:
- If using jumper cables, make sure the ignition is OFF in both vehicles.
- For the cables or power pack: attach the red clamp(s) to the positive terminal(s) of the battery. Attach the black clamp(s) to the negative terminal(s).
- Turn on the good vehicle/the power pack and run for at least five minutes/follow the wait time listed on the power pack.
- Try to start the dead vehicle.
Problem #2: Overheating engine.
Always carry antifreeze or coolant on a road trip, even if you are in a very hot region – this is why. Steam from under the bonnet is a definite sign of an overheating engine. Move the car immediately to a safe spot where you can inspect it. Shut the engine off, and open the hood to let it cool down. In the meantime, check for any dripping leaks. Once it has cooled down enough, check the engine oil and coolant levels and top up if necessary.
Problem #3: A car accident.
The damage caused by a car accident could be just a scrape, or a knocked off wing mirror, or there could be serious injuries involved. This is where car insurance is crucial. The most important thing is to ensure that you have a comprehensive car insurance policy in place before you start any road trip.
Car Insurance also has to fit in your budget. If you are planning a road trip to Ireland, then you should get a quote from an Irish Insurance company like theaa.ie. Their policies compare with three other companies: AXA, Allianz Aviva, so you can see just how affordable policy can be, and what kind of cover you would need.
The AA offers personal accident cover of up to €75,000, and legal expenses of up to €50,000 – knowing that the costs cover will aid your peace of mind in a potentially very stressful situation.
If you are in an accident, the first thing to do is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved. Alert the emergency services as soon as possible, and try to make sure everyone account. Get the other driver(s)’s contact details and vehicle information.
Problem #4: A flat tyre.
This happens less often than you might think, but it’s always useful to know how to change a flat tyre. For this one, you are going to need some items packed already: a jack, a wrench, spare tyre, gloves, owner’s manual, and a high-vis jacket. The manual should have step-by-step instructions for how to change the tyre – make sure to check that the lug nuts are on tightly when you’re done.
Problem #5: Running out of gas.
Probably the most common scenario out of all those listed in this article. Lots of people continue driving even after the gas marker dips below empty – a sure-fire way to get stranded on the side of the road. To avoid having to call out emergency gas tank filling services or stand by the road trying flag down other cars for help, try this simple trick: before your road trip, note the gas stations along your planned route. Google Maps has a handy feature that lets you mark locations before traveling, so they stay visible even when you’re offline.
Problem #6: Your transmission fails.
If you notice the lights on your dashboard sputtering, or the car making noises in neutral, or gears grinding…it’s probably your transmission going out. Once again the solution is a question of prior preparation. Getting your transmission checked is quick and won’t make a dent in your wallet.
With this arsenal of answers, we are sure that you will be able to deal with any unexpected car mishaps on your next road trip. Have you experienced any other car problems? Let us know in the comments below so that we can come up with some more creative solutions for you.