5 Car Issues to Fix Before a Road Trip

Car Mirror Road Trip

Road trips can be an incredible experience. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving through new places, seeing new sights and enjoying your freedom. Unfortunately, the whole thing collapses if you have car troubles and find yourself stranded a hundred miles from home. Before you embark on your road trip, check your vehicle for these five common problems.

1. Faulty Spark Plugs

Most everyone knows what a spark plug is and knows it’s essential to the smooth operation of your car. Few people think to check the spark plugs regularly, to ensure their proper functioning while you drive. Misfiring spark plugs can cause a wide variety of issues, from failing catalytic converters to faltering engines. Many of these issues point to other faulty parts before you think to check the spark plugs, leading to time-consuming and costly repairs. That is why it’s so important to change them very often.

2. Missing Gas Cap

We see it all the time; a car pulls out of a gas station with the gas cap hanging loose, sitting on the trunk or left behind entirely. Sure, it doesn’t seem that essential; after all, there’s the gas tank door to prevent anything getting inside the tank. You might be surprised at how much the gas cap affects your gas mileage. In the worst case scenario, a missing gas cap can allow moisture and contaminants into your tank, damaging your engine.

3. Failing Battery

Did you know that your car battery is only rated to last around three or four years? Many people go far longer without replacing their battery, because it just doesn’t seem like a common issue. Batteries can fail in a number of ways, many of which can cause damage to your car along the way. It’s better to replace your battery now than it is to have it fail on a road trip. Don’t forget to clean any corrosion off the battery terminals, so the new battery has full conductivity.

4. Flat or Leaky Tires

Obviously, a flat tire ends a road trip before it begins. What you may not notice, however, are the small issues that lead to a flat tire after you’ve been driving for an hour or two. Small nails or shards of glass can embed themselves in your tread, leaking air for days or weeks. Under-inflated tires cause low gas mileage at best, or can lead to blowouts in extreme circumstances. Bald tires make it harder to navigate in slick conditions. All of these tire issues should be checked out before you depart on your road trip.

5. Leaking Coolant

Any fluid pooling under your car should be checked out. If your oil is leaking, your car can overheat or grind to a fiery halt. If your coolant is leaking, your car will overheat and burn oil. If your brake fluid is leaking, you’re driving a dangerous machine. About the only fluid that can leak without worry is your windshield washer fluid, and even that can lead to dangerous driving in dusty conditions. Be safe; check any leaking fluid at a mechanic before you set off on your road trip.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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