No one ever expects their car to break down while they’re on a road trip, but it happens more often than you might think. If it happens to you, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to minimize the damage, evaluate your car engine parts, and get back on the road as quickly as possible.
We’ll provide a step-by-step guide for what to do when your car breaks down. We’ll also discuss what to do after the breakdown in order to make the process smoother. Be prepared by following our advice.
Table of Contents
#1 – Remain Calm and Assess the Situation
If your car breaks down, the first thing you should do is turn on your hazard lights. This will let other drivers know that you’re in a vulnerable position and they should be aware of your car on the side of the road.
Once you’ve done that, take a deep breath and assess the situation. It’s important to remain calm so you can think clearly and make decisions that will get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
#2 – Get Your Vehicle to the Side of the Road Safely
If you haven’t done so already and your vehicle is operational, get it to the side of the road. This will make it easier for other drivers to see you and avoid hitting your car.
If you’re on a busy highway, get off at the next available exit and find a safe place to park. If you’re on a smaller road, slowly drive to the side of the road and turn off your car.
#3 – Check Your Vehicle for Damage
Once you’ve calmed down, the next step is to check your vehicle and car engine parts for any problems. This includes checking your tires, engine oil levels, and coolant levels. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult your car’s manual or ask a nearby driver for help.
If you notice any problems, it’s important to get them fixed as soon as possible. Depending on the severity, you may be able to drive to a nearby town or city to get your car repaired.
#4 – Call for Help if Needed
If your car is severely damaged or you’re unable to fix it, the next step is to call for help. Here are some easy steps to take to find a local tow:
- Use your car’s GPS system or your phone’s searchto find the nearest tow truck options.
- Call a local tow truck companyand ask for their rates.
- Ask the tow truck companyif they’re able to take you to a nearby town or city.
- If your car is insured, you may be able to get help from your insurance company. Give them a call and ask about their roadside assistance coverage.
- If you have a friend or family member who lives nearby, they may be able to pick you up and take you to a mechanic.
If you’re broken down in a remote area, it’s important to stay with your car until help arrives. Do not try to walk to a nearby town or city as this can be dangerous.
What to Do When Cell Service Is Unavailable
When you find yourself in a situation where you have broken down without cell service, the best thing to do is stay in your car and wait for help.
This can be tricky, especially if you are in a remote location or if it is a particularly cold or rainy day.
Thankfully, many highways feature emergency phones that you can use to call for help. These phones are typically listed on official highway signs and will often connect directly to local authorities.
By using this safety net, you can easily get the assistance you need without putting yourself at risk by wandering off into unfamiliar territory. Once help arrives, authorities will be able to assess the situation and get you back on the road.
#5 – Gather Supplies for a Temporary Fix
If your car is only slightly damaged, there are some supplies you can gather to temporarily fix the problem.
Of course, to do this effectively involves you being prepared for your road trip in the first place. This may include packing a spare tire, jumper cables, and extra engine oil and coolant.
Consult your car’s manual to see what supplies you should have on hand in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to keep these supplies in your car at all times in case of a breakdown.
If you’re able to fix the problem yourself, great. If not, you’ll at least be able to make the car more manageable until help arrives.
#6 – Make Necessary On-Site Repairs if Possible
Once you’ve gathered the necessary supplies, it’s time to make the repairs. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult your car’s manual or ask a nearby driver for help.
If the repairs are more complex, it’s best to wait for a tow truck or mechanic to arrive. Do not try to fix the car yourself if you’re not confident in your abilities.
Making the repairs may not be fun, but it’s necessary to get back on the road. Some of the most common roadside repairs are:
- Adding coolant: If your car is low on coolant, you can add more using a funnel and coolant. Do not use water as this can damage your car.
- Adding engine oil: If your car is low on oil, you can add more using a funnel and engine oil. If you don’t know which type of oil to use, consult your car’s manual or ask a nearby driver.
- Changing a flat tire: If you have a spare tire, this is relatively easy to do. If you don’t, you’ll need to call for help.
- Jump-starting a car: If your car battery is dead, you can jump-start it using jumper cables.
Once you’ve made the repairs, it’s time to hit the road. But before you do, make sure to double-check your car and make sure everything is in working order. By following these steps, you’ll be able to handle a road trip breakdown like a pro.
Remember to stay calm and be prepared, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.
Once you hit the road again, we hope the rest of your road trip goes smoothly.
Luke Williams writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com. His passions include best practices for insurance and safely handling road trip breakdowns.