Imagine the situation, you’re in the middle of the freeway, you hear a loud clunk, you feel a shudder, you start to panic and you pull over to the side of the road and then bam! Your car breaks down.
You’re now stranded on the side of the road, just like 32 million other drivers every year. You’ve got no idea what went wrong and no idea how to fix it. Fear can start to set in but don’t panic!
This article is exactly what you need to prepare you so that in that dreaded situation, you don’t have to go into panic mode. This article will walk you through what to do when your car breaks down including:
- How to prevent problems happening in the first place
- What to do when your vehicle breaks down
- What to do while still on the road
- and much more
How to Prevent Vehicle Breakdowns
Properly maintained vehicles very rarely break down. A study by AAA showed that alarmingly, 35% of Americans have skipped or delayed recommend vehicle maintenance or repair.
AAA Predict that road users could avoid millions of roadside breakdowns each year with simple maintenance. What are the biggest culprits of roadside breakdowns? Out of 29 million calls for roadside assistance in 2014, 17 million were due to:
- Batterie failure
- Flat tires
- Keys locked inside vehicles
How to Prevent Battery Issues
Batteries in a car usually last between three and five years; hotter climates also lead to reduced battery life. To avoid a battery failure out of the blue, AAA recommends having your battery tested after three years of age, and annually after that.
How to Prevent Flat Tires
60% don’t check tire pressure every month; keeping tires properly inflated and having tread depths checked regularly is critical to safety. You should check your tire pressure (including the spare) every month routinely.
Also, although it might not seem like an excellent idea for theft to store the locking wheel lug nuts in the car, it prevented 21,000 tire changes in 2014. It’s worth keeping the spare in the glove box, just in case.
Keys Locked Inside Vehicle
Despite a lot of modern cars having keyless entry systems, there still seems to be an almost identical number of people locking their key’s inside of their vehicles. It’s hard to avoid this common mistake, our advice? Don’t lose your keys in your car.
What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down
When your car breaks down, the immediate reaction can be to panic. Remember to always focus on safety as the priority in any situation.
It’s impossible to give you an exact guide on what to do due to changing conditions. Your surroundings, vehicle position, traffic and vehicle hazards are going to vary in every situation.
Make sure to be Smart, Cautious and Safe.
The First Step, Note Your Vehicle’s Location
If you encounter a problem while driving, make sure to get a bearing on your surroundings and overall location. Make sure you know where you are in comparison to any major exits.
Look out for well-lit areas and landmarks like service stations, restaurants or recognizable businesses. This is important for if you need to call for any assistance.
Try to Figure out the Vehicles Problem While Driving
While you are driving, you need to make sure you are careful at all times, but try and listen out for any noises or problems. Get a feel for where the problem may be, such as in the steering, the braking or if any sounds are coming from unusual locations.
Pull off the Road
When your car breaks down, you can sometimes see smoke, hear a flat tire or see emergency lights flash on your dash. In this situation don’t panic and signal, slow down steadily and carefully pull onto the side of the road.
If your engine stops, it could be due to problems or running out of gas. In this situation switch on your emergency/safety flasher lights and delicately steer your car out of traffic and use the car’s momentum to get you off the road.
Try to get as far away from traffic as possible.
What to Do If Your Car Breaks down and You Can’t Get off the Road
If you find that your vehicle loses power, becomes inoperable make sure to first signal other motorists by putting on your emergency/safety flashers. Make sure not to risk any injury to yourself by trying to push it to a safe location.
If you feel your car is in a risky position and may get hit from behind, make sure to get you and your passengers away from the vehicle.
Alert Other Motorists
When your car breaks down, making your vehicle visible to other motorists can be vital to avoid any accidents or risk to yourself or other drivers. As other drivers will usually be traveling at high speed make sure to take precautions:
- Put your emergency/safety lights on
- Raise the hood of your car
- Tie a bright scarf to the antenna to raise attention
- You can use flares to warn drivers just be cautious if there is a fuel leak
Communicate and Call for Help
Once you know that you and your passengers are safely out of the way and your car isn’t a hazard, you can notify others of your breakdown. Use your cell phone to call for help, make sure to do at a safe distance from your vehicle.
Make sure to remark local landmarks to help locate you and your vehicle.
Have an Emergency Kit in Your Car
Now you know what to do when your car breaks down it’s worth remembering to prepare for all eventualities. One suggestion by House of Cars is to have an emergency kit packed into the back of your car at all times.
Some of the best items to keep in your car to prevent problems are:
- Cell phone with power bank charger
- Pen and notebook
- Medical kit
- Vehicle operating manual
- Emergency service information
- Flashlight including extra batteries
- Water and preserved food
- Tire pressure gauge and jumper cables
- Windscreen washer fluid
- Ice scraper
- Thermal/safety blanket
- Lug wrench for changing a flat tire
Stay Safe on the Roads
Preparing for every eventuality is hard to do in any situation due to having such extensive variables. One of the best things you can do is to prepare for a situation.
Know the right approach for when your car breaks down and aim to prevent the situations from happening with proper vehicle maintenance.