What to do when your car breaks down?

Driving down the highway or a busy route, and suddenly your car breaks down and lost the power. Is it a flat tire or a dead engine?

Any unforeseen circumstance on the road can be very infuriating and troublesome at the same time. There could be fast tailing traffic or a block at a busy intersection, or any other emergency. The idea is not to lose your senses or panic and think wisely about your next step.

Here are some important points that you should keep in mind if something goes wrong while on the road or your car breaks down.

Warn others and steer away from the danger

The first and foremost thing that should click in your mind is alerting the other drivers on the road that something is wrong with your vehicle or it has broken down. Immediately turn on the hazard lights, the switch for hazards is always placed at a convenient location with a red triangle mark on it. In case you can’t locate the button or the hazard lights aren’t functional, wave a bright-colored cloth, be it a shiny shirt, a towel, or any piece of fabric present inside.

The next step is to steer away from the danger. If the engine is responding, try to drive to the side of the road, keeping the rear traffic movement in your sight. In case the engine has died, you would have some margin of steering away by gliding your car. Here, the window of reaction is very short so you’ve to act quickly and smartly. Try to part at a leveled ground and as much away from the moving traffic as possible.

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Secure your vehicle properly

After you’ve safely moved your car to a better place, try to secure it by checking the brakes. Turn the wheels away from the direction of traffic to prevent it from moving onto the fast-moving traffic and engage the emergency/parking brakes. In case the brakes have failed or you’re on a slope, put a heavy object like a big stone at the back of the tires.

Stay inside your car

If your car has broken down in the center of the speed lane, act sensibly and don’t try to evade or walk away by trying to push your vehicle. The right step would be to sit tight, turn on the hazards and call for help by contacting the emergency services or police. Trying to push your car to the roadside or running away can get you or your family in serious trouble or a fatal accident.

Call for help

The next step if your car breaks down, it would be to alert the emergency services and call for help immediately. Inform your family or friends about your situation and try to get help by calling the road services, such as towing, tire change, or jump-start services.

Alerting the authorities is very important as they will dispatch a unit to control the traffic, warn the other drivers and help you get to safety, till the car gets repaired or is towed away.

Alert others and make yourself visible

Alerting others on the road can ensure your safety and prevent any unforeseen situation from happening. The first thing to do if you don’t have the traffic cone available is to prop open the hood. It gives the indication to other drivers that something is wrong with your car, and they can be careful or can offer help even.

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Make yourself visible as well, so that you don’t get hit by someone. Either wear a colorful shirt, put on any piece of cloth, or wear a cap that makes you distinct and visible to others.

Assess what’s wrong with your car

Women car breaks down

If you heard any weird noise or smelled something abnormal, try to find out where it came from and what went wrong with your car. Do not get into anything too complex or mechanical and make sure you’re at a safe location. Most importantly, don’t try to uncap the radiator, there might be boiling water or coolant that can splash and harm you or your family.

Use a flashlight to inspect for minor issues, it might be a blown fuse box or loose battery terminals. If it looks fixable, do it carefully and get back on the road, otherwise wait for the help to arrive.

Using certain additives such as CYCOPRO friction modifier may help to prolong your engine. Having good engine performance is vital for your mental well being.

Ask for a lift if its dark or the weather is harsh

It is not safe to stay inside the car or lurk outside if it’s getting late or the weather is harsh, such as a thunderstorm.

If you car breaks down, try to get help or lift from someone if the help is not expected to arrive soon, as staying there can be dangerous and unsafe for you and your loved ones.

Someone might even help you get your car back on the road or give you a lift to a nearby locality.

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Pro Tips

  1. The best advice is to keep the car in pristine condition and follow the maintenance schedule so that nothing goes wrong in the first place.
  2. In case an accident happens, such as a flat tire or a dead battery, you must have a toolbox in your car that carries all the necessary equipment.
  3. Always carry a gallon of fuel in your trunk, for the rainy day. Not because you forgot to fill up the tank, but if something on the road hits your tank and it leaks.
  4. Always have the contact info of emergency services with you.
  5. Ensure that your car has a jack, tire inflator kit, emergency first aid kit, and puncture repair gel in the trunk.

Image credit: ST Auto

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