It’s the season for a road trip. Maybe you’re headed off to the beach for the annual family vacay. Perhaps you’re visiting family in another state, or maybe you’re finally taking that dream trip and driving across the country and back.Road trips are fun, but they can also be dangerous, particularly if your vehicle isn’t ready for the challenges it will face along the way.Here are the 15 worst things that might happen to your car on a road trip, and how you can prevent them from happening15. Flat TireThis one’s almost a given – you’re driving along, minding your own business, when the steering suddenly goes wonky, and there’s a loud whomp-whomp-whomp sound. You’ve blown a tire, and now it’s time to put on the spare. Help avoid this by having your tires checked (and replaced) before hitting the road. Avoid hitting debris in the road if at all possible without swerving into other lanes of traffic.14. Blown Radiator HoseYou’re cruising down the road, when steam suddenly starts billowing from under the hood, and your temperature gauge shoots into the red. Pull off the road immediately, and call yourself a tow truck. Have your hoses checked before you start your trip to avoid this nasty outcome.13. Broken BeltA broken belt could mean a frustrating experience sitting on the side of the road, rather than sightseeing or making it to your destination. Belts crack and wear over time, and they’ll fail if not maintained and inspected regularly.12. Brake FailureHear that squeal when you hit the brakes? That’s a good sign your pads are about worn out, and you’ll soon be metal to metal. When that happens, the caliper will begin eating into the rotor, and you’ll have bigger problems than just replacing your pads. Have your brakes checked regularly, particularly before a road trip.11. Power Steering FailurePower steering systems help make it easier to handle your car, but when the pump fails or the rack springs a leak, you’ve got some serious headaches ahead of you. Check the power steering fluid level regularly, and have the rack inspected before hitting the road.10. Dead BatteryThere’s nothing quite like turning the ignition of your car only to hear click, click, click. Your car’s battery can die at any time. Have it checked before you leave for your trip, and make sure to turn off the lights and radio when the engine’s not running to avoid draining it.Speaking of your car's ignition, when is the last time you had your plugs examined? You may need to change your spark plugs.9. Starter FailureWithout an operable starter, you won’t be going much of anywhere. Thankfully, they can be checked easily during a charging/starting system check (which will also check your battery and your alternator’s operation). Have one performed before starting your trip.8. Locked OutMost of us have been here at one point or another, but it’s much worse when you’re hundreds of miles from home. Make sure you have a spare key, and that it’s not in the vehicle. If necessary, have another family member carry a spare in their pocket at all times.7. Transmission TroubleWithout a working transmission, you’re going nowhere. Transmission trouble can include anything from slamming into gear to refusal to shift out of a gear (up or down). The best defense here is ensuring that your fluid is changed regularly and that you have a trusted mechanic keeping an eye on it.6. Running Out of GasThis one is directly due to driver failure. Make sure you know how far it is to the next gas station, and always fill up before you enter a long, barren stretch of road. If possible, carry a gas can with you for these emergencies, but planning is the better option. Today’s technology (from GPS to smartphones) makes this far easier.Running out of gas is one of the most infamous car problems along Route 66, one of the most popular road trip routes. Here are some fun facts about Route 66 if you're looking for suggestions.5. Air Conditioning FailureSummertime road trips can be amazing, but not if you and the family are sweating bullets the whole way. Have your air conditioning system inspected for operation annually to avoid getting hot under the collar.4. Blown FuseYour vehicle’s electronics rely on fuses and relays to operate, and a blown fuse can mean big trouble – anything from your wipers not working to the fuel pump failing. Again, proper maintenance is important, but you can handle some of this yourself. Keep a box of spare fuses and a fuse puller in the car to avoid serious issues.3. Wiper TroubleSummer is synonymous with sunshine and warm weather, but also with thunderstorms, which can be severe. If your wipers aren’t up to snuff, you could find yourself waiting out the storm on the side of the road, or, worse yet, involved in an accident. Change your wiper blades once every six months.2. Engine TroubleEngine trouble can include almost anything, from overheating to the oil light coming on while you’re driving. Whatever it is, you can bet that you won’t be enjoying your trip much. Have your oil changed before the trip, and ensure that the mechanic inspects the engine at the same time.1. Check Engine LightIt’s normal to be more than a little stressed when that check engine light pops on while you’re driving down the road. It might be nothing. On the other hand, it might be something pretty serious. Have the code checked immediately. Help avoid this problem by ensuring that your car is properly maintained and serviced before your trip begins.Aside from car problems, driver malfunction can ruin a road trip pretty quickly too. Familiarize yourself with where you're going and the route you're taking to get there.If you're going through a mountainous area, there could be the chance of snow all year round. It's always good practice to know how to drive in snow and other extreme weather conditions.These are just a few of the issues that could crop up during your road trip, turning your dream vacation into a nightmare.The most important tip for avoiding all of these and more is to ensure that your car is properly serviced before you leave. Make sure you plan ahead as well, to avoid issues like running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.