You’ve finally broken free from your day-to-day responsibilities and you’re out on the open road — ready to dive headfirst into that long-awaited vacation. But have you prepared for the number of road mishaps that may pop up as you travel to your destination? For example, you could be cruising along and have a tire blow, or you might discover you locked your keys in the car when you stopped for a bite to eat. Or it could be something more serious — and more expensive to fix. Suddenly, those funds you set aside to make the most of your vacay are dwindling right before your eyes.
While you can’t prevent every single slip-up that happens on the road, you can anticipate what might happen and take the appropriate precautions before you ever roll out of your driveway. For some pre-road trip inspiration, here’s a look at 10 road trip mishaps and the damage they’ll do to your wallet.
Last updated: May 7, 2021
Estimated cost: $80-$230
If your tire goes flat, hopefully you have a spare that’s in good condition. If you can’t or don’t want to change the flat, it could cost you around $80 to have someone meet you on the roadside and change your tire. And if you don’t have a full-size spare, you’ll need to get to a tire shop as soon as possible to buy a new tire, which could cost around $150, depending on your vehicle.
Estimated cost: $389.99 and up
If a car thief takes the time to pop your lock, you can avoid having to replace a broken window, which will cost you around $389.99 to replace. If you have comprehensive insurance, however, it will likely cover the cost to replace your windshield after you pay your deductible. But if you have a $500 deductible, it would be cheaper to pay the cost out of your pocket. Some insurance companies offer full glass coverage that will pay the cost with no deductible, so you may want to check with your insurer. In addition to the glass replacement cost, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of stolen items and any other damage that occurs during the break-in, which could equal hundreds to thousands of dollars more.
Estimated cost: $829.99
According to Safelite AutoGlass, if the damage to your windshield is larger than 6 inches, your windshield should be replaced — especially if it’s obstructing the driver’s vision. If the damage is limited to three or fewer chips or less than 6 inches, you likely can have it repaired.
Estimated costs are $479.99 for the windshield and $350 to recalibrate the camera connected to the car’s windshield that helps ensure that features, such as automatic braking and forward collision warnings, function properly.
Discover: 23 Car Upgrades That Are Worth the Price
Empty Gas Tank
Estimated cost: $59-$65
While you would think running out of gas would be the least of your worries, it could happen. Trying to push your vehicle to a place where you can fill up cheaper or not realizing how long you’ll have to drive once you pass up the last gas station can put you in a fuel-related fix. Depending on the service, the fuel delivery charge could include two to three gallons of gas or you may have to pay a separate charge of $2-$4 per gallon.
Air Conditioner Stops Working
Estimated cost: $1,227-$1,690
You turn on the car and crank up the A/C and all you feel is hot air. If your air conditioner stops cooling, it could be the compressor. If the compressor needs to be replaced, parts are estimated at $828-$944 and labor is estimated at $399-$746. Plus, you’ll have to find an auto repair shop that’s open and available to replace the compressor and get you back on the road again.
Estimated cost: $194-$266
The average car battery will last between three to five years, so there’s a chance it could fail if you’ve had the same one at least a few years when you set out on your road trip. The cost of a new battery is estimated at $140-$198 and labor is estimated at $54-$68. To avoid this mishap, you can test your car battery with a multimeter before you head out and also consider getting a portable car battery jump starter so you don’t have to rely on someone else for a jump.
Broken Serpentine Belt
Estimated cost: $159-$188
A squealing noise from the front of your car could mean that the serpentine belt has slipped or become misaligned. The serpentine belt helps run the power steering and air conditioning of your vehicle. If this belt breaks, your car will also break down and the belt will need to be replaced. Parts for this repair are estimated at $52 and labor to install is estimated at $107-$136.
Reliable Rides: 15 Great Cars To Own for More Than 15 Years
Estimated cost: $75-$125
If you happen to have a fender bender and your car needs to be towed, it could cost you $75-$125 or $2-$4 per mile. Additional costs include repairing the damage to your car, which could be as little as the cost of your insurance deductible.
Locked Out of Your Car
Estimated cost: $100-$200
With all of the potential distractions on a road trip, the chances of you locking your keys in the car are probably higher than normal. The estimated cost for a locksmith to unlock your car is $50-$100 and an additional $50-$100 for the trip charge. And if your car needs to be unlocked after hours, it could cost you an additional $150-$250 for an emergency service call.
Expenses When You're Stranded
Estimated cost: $90.92-$117 and up
Last, but not least, road trip mishaps can force your car out of commission, which can cause you to have to book extra time in a hotel when you might otherwise be driving or pay for a rental car so you can continue on your trip. The average cost of a one-night stay in a hotel in the U.S., according to Statista, is $90.92. And the average cost of a rental car is $117 per day, according to Kayak.
More From GOBankingRates
Methodology: Costs were based on a 2018 Honda Accord, which is one of the most popular car makes in America, and sourced from NAPA’s car repair estimator, Safelite AutoGlass, Firestone and various roadside service companies. Your actual costs may vary, depending on the make and model of vehicle you drive and the service providers you choose.