It's a sunny clear day and you are coasting down the highway, radio turned up and windows down. Maybe you are on your way to work or to visit a friend. Suddenly, your car starts to slow down and your day takes a turn for the worst. That's right, your car just broke down. Do you know what to do?
There are multiple reasons that a car might break down. The Automobile Association researched the top 10 reasons behind a car breakdown, listing a faulty battery as the most common reason, followed by tire problems, alternator faults and fuel issues.
As you hit the road this season, it's important to be prepared for any automotive issues that could occur. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Know the proper steps to take
When you first start to experience car trouble, the most important thing is to get off of the roadway. Pull over to the side of the road or into breakdown lane if it's available. During this time, try not to panic. Staying calm will help you to evaluate your situation with a level head. The National Safety Council stressed the importance of being aware of surrounding traffic. Do not break quickly or make rapid movements, especially when on a highway or interstate. Doing so could cause an accident. When pulling over, don't forget to check your mirrors.
Once pulled over, put on your emergency flashers assess your situation. It's important that other drivers can see your car, especially at night. AAA reported that staying in your vehicle until help comes can be the safest decision.
There are some key items that should be kept in your car that will help you in the event of a breakdown.
- A cellphone will help you call for help, whether you contact a friend, a mechanic or emergency services. It's also smart to keep spare change in the car, in case your phone dies and you have to find a payphone.
- Reflectors are important to have at night. Placing them behind your car alerts oncoming traffic to your position. AAA suggested placing "the first flare or triangle 10 feet directly behind the side of the vehicle closest to the road. Place the second device 100 feet directly behind the vehicle lined up with the middle of the bumper. Position the third device behind the vehicle's right side - 100 feet if on an undivided highway, 300 feet if on a divided highway."
- A flashlight is key. If your vehicle breaks down at night and you have to get out of the car to seek help or to fix the problem the flashlight will alert others to your presence and allow you to see.
- It's a smart idea to keep a spare tire in your car, along with the equipment necessary to change your flat. Although spare tires are not always meant for long-distance driving, they should give your car the extra boost it needs to reach a local auto repair shop.
Keep your car in shape
The best way to handle a breakdown is to avoid it all together. Ensuring that your car is in top shape will keep it running during your journeys. Even if your car seems like it's in good health, getting a regular car tune up can protect you from dangerous situations. Keep an eye on your check engine light and get your car checked if it comes on. Don't forget to pay attention to your tires and get a regular oil change. If you take care of your car, it will help take care of you.