If you’re lucky you have never experienced the sinking feeling of knowing that your car is about to break down on you. All too many, however, have had that feeling – a sudden loss of power, warning lights flashing, perhaps even burning smells of overheating, it’s a nightmare.
This can be a terrifying experience, especially if you are driving along a busy road and you suddenly realize your journey is about to stop abruptly. It is important then to be prepared for such an emergency and to know what to do in order to ensure your safety.
You may not want to even think that you might break down but cars are machines and they can and do break down, so you must prepare for that possibility. Invest in some form of roadside assistance plan, this way if you break down you have someone to call who can come and fix your problem or tow you to someone who can repair the vehicle.
You should also make sure you have a functioning spare tire along with a jack, wheel changing tools, and high-visibility safety triangles. A supply of water could also be beneficial for both yourself and an overheating car.
Driving down the freeway there is no scarier feeling than knowing the car is struggling and fading fast. Try not to panic. Assess your surroundings and look for somewhere you can safely pull over. Turn on your hazard lights so other drivers can see you are having problems and use your indicators to let them know where you are planning to go.
Do not try and accelerate out of the situation, this could do more harm. It is important not to brake hard, just be aware of your surroundings and ease your vehicle to the breakdown area or the freeway if an exit ramp is nearby. Pull as far away from traffic as you can without risking getting stuck on the soft shoulder.
Once you have pulled over, keep your hazard lights on to make sure your car is visible. If you are stopped after dark deploys your high visibility safety triangles and turn on your interior car lights so other cars can see you and avoid hitting your vehicle.
If the problem is simple, such as a flat tire, carefully and safely fix the problem and continue. Should the problem be beyond your own knowledge, contact your roadside assistance company. If you are unable to do this, you can raise your car hood and tie a white rag to your radio antenna or some other high point of the vehicle.
This will alert passing police or tow truck drivers that you need help. It is not a good idea to try and flag down passing motorists as this places you at risk of being struck. If you are near a place of safety, you can leave your vehicle as a last resort, but stay as far from the flow as traffic as possible.