What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down on the Road: Friendly Tips for Drivers

When your car breaks down, it's essential to stay calm and follow specific steps to ensure your safety and the safety of those around. Focus on assessing your vehicle, moving to a safer location, and alerting other road users. Here are the 
immediate steps after a car breakdown

Assess Your Vehicle's Condition

Remain calm and evaluate the situation. Look for any unusual signs such as smoke or flames. If you see either, exit the vehicle immediately and move away from it.

Check your mirrors and surroundings cautiously. If you can, try to identify the problem. Basic checks include looking at the tyres, and whether the engine is overheating.

Listen for unusual sounds from the vehicle. Understanding what could be wrong helps you communicate better when you call for help.

Move to Safety

Turn on your hazard lights to notify other drivers that your car has an issue. If your car still has momentum, try to pull over to the right shoulder or side of the road. This minimizes the risk of being hit by traffic.

If you can't move the vehicle, and it is safe, you should exit the vehicle from the right side to avoid oncoming traffic. Make sure to wear your seatbelt until you are ready to exit.

Find a safe place away from the car and oncoming traffic. If there are barriers, stay behind them to avoid the risk of other vehicles swerving.

Alert Other Road Users

Use your emergency blinkers to make your car visible. If it's dark, turn on your interior dome lights to enhance visibility. Carry a white cloth or piece of paper to hang from your window, signalling distress.

If safe, place reflective triangles or flares around your car to warn others. Keep these items in your trunk for emergencies.

Call for help once you are in a safe place. Use your phone or a roadside assistance service. If you are unsure whom to call, numbers for services like AAA can be helpful.

Stay focused on the immediate actions needed to keep everyone safe and your vehicle secure.

Calling for Assistance

When your car breaks down on the road, it's important to stay calm and get help as soon as possible. Whether you’re using roadside assistance or calling emergency services, knowing what steps to take can make a big difference.

Contact Roadside Assistance

warning triangle

If your car breaks down, the first step is often to call your roadside assistance provider. Services like AAA Roadside Assistance or your insurance company’s policy can help. Use your cell phone to call for help, or use apps like the AAA mobile app for quick access.

Provide clear information about your location and the nature of the problem, whether it’s a mechanical failure or a flat tyre. Turn on your hazard lights to make your vehicle visible.

While waiting for assistance, stay inside the car to keep safe from traffic. Only exit the car if you are sure it is safe to do so. Keep your doors locked and be mindful of your surroundings while waiting for help.

Use Emergency Services if Necessary

If you feel unsafe or if there is a more serious issue, you may need to call 911. Use emergency services if you are in a dangerous area or there's a health emergency.

When calling 911, clearly state your location, the nature of the emergency, and any immediate dangers. If your car breaks down on a busy highway and you can't move it to a safe spot, emergency services can help direct traffic and ensure everyone’s safety.

Have emergency numbers handy so you don't need to look them up in a stressful situation. This means keeping a list of important contacts in your car or saved on your phone for quick access.

Safety Measures While Waiting for Help

When your car breaks down, it's essential to protect yourself and your passengers. Use these tips to make sure you stay safe and visible until help arrives.

Positioning Warning Signals

Always make yourself visible. Turn on your hazard lights as soon as you realize there is an issue. This will alert other drivers to your situation.

Place flares or reflective triangles around your vehicle. Set these up about 200 to 500 feet behind your car, especially if you're on a highway. This helps other drivers see you from a distance, reducing the risk of an accident.

If it's dark, hang a white cloth or bright paper out of the window. This makes your car more noticeable to the police or responders. Always set up your warnings from the passenger-side door to avoid traffic.

Staying Inside the Vehicle

Staying in your vehicle is usually safer, especially on a busy highway. Keep your seatbelt on, even when parked, in case another vehicle hits yours.

If you have passengers, ensure everyone stays inside and remains calm. Lock the doors and roll up the windows.

If you must leave the car, exit from the passenger-side door and only if it's safe to do so. It's dangerous to stand close to moving traffic.

Call for help and wait inside your car. Keep your phone handy but conserve battery. This way, you'll be ready when responders arrive.

Understanding Common Breakdown Causes

Knowing what causes car breakdowns helps you prevent them and handle issues effectively. Engine problems and battery issues are common, while overheated engines and flat tyres top the list of reasons why cars stop on the road.

Identifying Signs of a Breakdown

You can avoid serious issues by recognizing early signs. Keep an eye on your dashboard warning lights. When the check engine light comes on, it can signal various problems, from minor to severe. Strange noises, like knocking or hissing, may indicate mechanical problems.

Pay attention to how your car feels. Shaking, loss of power, or difficult steering might mean trouble. Regularly check your battery terminals for corrosion. Make sure the coolant is topped up to prevent the engine from overheating.

Dealing with a Flat Tyre or Overheated Engine

When you get a flat tyre, pull over safely and turn on your hazard lights. Use a jack to lift the car and remove the damaged tyre. Replace it with the spare, making sure it's properly secured.

An overheated engine requires immediate action. Pull over, turn off the car, and pop the hood to help heat escape. Do not open the radiator cap while the engine is hot. Wait for the engine to cool down, then check the coolant level. If it's low, add coolant or water before driving to a safe place.

These tips can make dealing with breakdowns less stressful and help you get back on the road quickly.

Post-Breakdown Maintenance Tips

Taking care of your vehicle after a breakdown is essential to ensure it runs smoothly and to avoid future issues. It's important to check your vehicle's condition and visit a repair shop if needed.

Checking Your Vehicle's Condition

After your car breaks down, inspect your vehicle for any visible damage. Start with the tyres—look for flat or damaged tyres and use a lug wrench if you need to change one. Check under the hood for any obvious issues like loose belts or leaking fluids.

If you have tools, like pliers, you can make small adjustments. Also, make sure the engine isn't making any unusual noises. If you run out of gas, refill the tank, and check the fuel gauge. Carry out these checks carefully to avoid overlooking any major problems.

Visiting a Repair Shop

If your inspection reveals issues you can't fix on your own, it's time to go to a repair shop. Look for an AAA Approved Auto Repair centre, as these shops meet high standards. Bring your car's ID, registration, and insurance info.

Before driving away, ask the mechanics to inspect all major systems, focusing on the engine and tyres. They can identify hidden damage that might not be visible to you. Keep a record of all repairs and maintenance to help you track your car's condition.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Future Breakdowns

Taking care of your vehicle can help you avoid breakdowns and stay safe on the road. Regular maintenance and being prepared with an emergency kit are key steps.

Regular Vehicle Maintenance

Maintaining your vehicle is crucial. Start by checking oil levels and coolant regularly. Low oil can damage your engine, and low coolant can make it overheat. Make sure your tyres are in good condition. Look for any signs of wear and tear, and ensure they are properly inflated.

Don't forget to inspect your brakes and battery. Brakes should be checked for wear, and your battery should be tested to avoid unexpected failure. Replace worn-out wipers to maintain good visibility during rain. Keep an eye on your belts and hoses as well. They can crack or break over time and cause issues.

Schedule routine visits to a trusted mechanic. They can spot problems early, like transmission troubles or other mechanical issues. Consider a membership with AAA Roadside Assistance. They offer reliable help if something goes wrong on the road.

Keeping an Emergency Kit

Always have an emergency kit in your car. Start with basic tools such as a screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench. Include a tyre pressure gauge and jumper cables. These can help you handle minor repairs and avoid being stranded.

Pack supplies like bottled water, non-perishable snacks, and a first aid kit. This is especially important in case you're stuck for a while. Having a flashlight with extra batteries is useful if your breakdown happens at night.

Include items like a blanket for cold weather and ponchos for rain. A charged phone power bank can ensure you stay connected. Keep reflective warning triangles or flares to alert other drivers of your presence. This enhances your safety by making your vehicle more visible on the road.

Being ready for any situation can save you time and stress.

*Collaborative post

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