It’s a situation we all hope to avoid, but it’s important to be prepared for: your car breaking down. Whether you’re on a busy highway, a rural road, or just outside of town, knowing what to do when your vehicle fails can keep you safe and help you handle the situation more effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if your car breaks down.
Step 1: Stay Calm and Assess the Situation
First and foremost, remain calm. Panicking can cloud your judgment. Assess your surroundings and the nature of your car’s problem if you can.
Step 2: Pull Over Safely
If your car is still operable, move it to the side of the road. If you’re on a highway, try to reach the nearest exit. Use your turn signals to indicate your movements and pull over as safely as possible.
Step 3: Make Your Vehicle Visible
Once you’ve stopped, turn on your hazard lights. If you have them, set up warning triangles or flares behind your car to alert other drivers. This is especially important at night or in poor visibility conditions.
Step 4: Stay Inside Your Car (If Possible)
In most situations, it’s safest to stay inside your car with the doors locked, especially if you’re on a busy road. If you feel it’s safe to exit the vehicle (for instance, if you’re in a quiet neighborhood), do so carefully and stay close to your vehicle.
Step 5: Call for Help
Use your phone to call for roadside assistance or a tow truck. If you don’t have a cell phone or are in an area with no service, you might have to flag down help or walk to a nearby location where you can make a call.
Step 6: Wait for Assistance
Remain in a safe location while you wait for help to arrive. Avoid accepting help from strangers in desolate or unfamiliar areas. It’s generally safer to wait for professional assistance.
Step 7: Arrange for Alternate Transportation
If your car needs to be towed, you’ll need to figure out your next steps. This might involve calling a taxi, a ride-share service, or a friend or family member for a lift.
Step 8: Notify Relevant Parties
If you’re running late for an appointment or need to inform someone of your situation, do so once you’re safe and have arranged for help.
- Preventative Maintenance: Regularly servicing your car can reduce the chances of a breakdown.
- Emergency Kit: Keep an emergency kit in your car. This should include items like water, snacks, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and warm clothing or a blanket.
- Insurance and Roadside Assistance: Ensure that your insurance policy is up to date and consider investing in a roadside assistance plan.
A car breakdown can be an unsettling experience, but being prepared can make it much more manageable. Remember to prioritize your safety, call for professional assistance, and stay calm. By following these steps, you’ll be better equipped to handle such situations effectively and safely.