Your Car Just Broke Down: Now What Do You Do?

Even if you know your car has some issues, you never really anticipate breaking down. If it happens to you, the most important thing to remember is to not panic. Knowing the first steps to take should your vehicle stall out on the interstate, a country highway, or even a street in another neighborhood will help you stay safe, assess the problem, and obtain assistance if necessary. With a cool head and some basic understanding, you will soon be on your way to your destination in one piece.

Before You Travel

The best time to plan for a breakdown is long before it ever happens. A box of emergency supplies in your trunk can be a lifesaver in the event of a roadside crisis. Helpful items to have on hand include a flashlight and extra batteries, water for drinking and for the radiator, jumper cables, a spare tire and a jack, flares or warning triangles, sand or cat litter in case you become stuck in ice or snow, basic tools and first aid kits, warm blankets, and an umbrella.

Pull Over if Possible

If your vehicle is at all operational, you should try to pull off the main road and onto the shoulder. If you break down completely on a quiet street and you are physically able to push your car to the curb, you should do so. However, if your car dies on a busy highway, do not attempt to exit the vehicle. Stay put while making other efforts to get to safety.

Alert Other Drivers

Turn on your hazard lights immediately so that drivers around you know you are unable to move. Keep your hazards on until you have resolved the issue or obtained help. If you are stranded on the roadway, hang a white cloth or piece of paper, such as a t-shirt, plastic bag or napkin from your driver's side window as a sign that you need assistance. You may need to exit another door to get out of your car safely. 

Evaluate the Problem

Check out the car if you are able and make repairs to the best of your abilities. For instance, you might be comfortable changing a flat tire or walking to a nearby station for a gallon of gas. However, only attempt to fix the issue if it is safe to do so.

Call for Help

Remember that assistance is available and is as near as your cellphone. Some states offer roadside service, which you may be able to access by calling *SP (star 77) for State Police or *HP (star 47) for Highway Patrol on your mobile phone. Your driver's license may provide an emergency number, as well. Alternatively, contact a reputable roadside service provider that will happily rush to your aid and get you safely back on the road once more.

For more information on roadside service, contact a company like Ruhls Diesel Repair.