Are you sitting on the side of the road madly googling, “What to do when car breaks down”? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
Breaking down is a stressful experience, it doesn’t matter where or when it happens. Take a deep breath. Now that you’re calm and focused, let’s take this step by step.
Here’s what to do when your car breaks down:
1. Don’t panic
Sounds obvious, but it’s worth reminding. Panic is no one’s friend on the road. Even when your car is about to kick it, it’s worth remaining calm. Try to remain calm and focused on the road and around other drivers.
2. Pull over safely
This can be the most stressful part of the whole exercise, but once it’s over you can breathe a sigh of relief. As soon as you notice something is wrong with your vehicle and you’re driving on the freeway, it’s best to carefully enter the far left lane if you’re not there already. Make sure you indicate the entire time.
Find a safe place to pull over. While there is no ‘perfect’ spot to look out for, ensuring you find a place sooner than later is recommended. The slower you drive on the road the more prone you are to being bumped from behind by a distracted driver.
3. Turn your emergency hazard lights on
Your next step is to make sure other drivers can see where you are and also inform them that you’re broken down. Your hazard lights do both those things at once. Importantly, it gives other drivers a warning that you’re not moving – so they can either slow down or carefully manoeuvre around you.
If you’re quick, you can turn these on as soon as you feel that something is wrong. For example, if your engine sputters to a halt – you’re probably still going to keep moving for a hundred metres or so – as you search for the right moment to pull over safely, other cars can already safely steer clear of your slower-moving vehicle.
4. Do not jump out of the car straight away
Before you can survey the area, it’s important to stay put and ensure it’s safe to go outside. Busy highways can be the most dangerous place to get out of the car – so ensure you’re as far away from the traffic as possible.
If you’re in the middle of nowhere obviously this doesn’t apply, but especially if it’s dark, ensure you’re not stepping out into moving traffic.
5. Move around safety
Once you’re out of the car, other drivers must be able to see you – if you have a high visibility vest available, put this on for extra safety, and ensure any children and/or passengers keep their seatbelts on. Kids may also be quite afraid or even excited and may want to jump out of the car with you. Ensure they stay exactly where they are (remember the child lock function is your friend).
6. See if you can identify the problem
There are a myriad of reasons a car might break down. From engine failures, electrical faults, or even the classic empty tank can be to blame for these mishaps. Depending on the cause, your next steps may look slightly different.
7. Call roadside assistance
In many cases, roadside assistance may be able to get you back up and running within a matter of hours (the exact time will of course depend on where you are and who is available). For example, if you require a battery replacement or a dash of fuel to get you to the next service station, it should be nice and quick. Other issues – like torn or damaged wheels – may require more serious intervention.
8. Call a tow
Yes, it can happen that your car fully gives up on the road – leaving you in a real pickle. The only safe way out of this jam is calling up a tow. Make sure that you’re in contact with your insurer to make sure you’re not overlooking any towing cover you may have. You may be covered and not even know it.
Remember: the towing agreement should have the full address where the car will be towed and the towing fee. Carefully read any fine print; if the terms and conditions seem suspicious don’t sign it and wait for a different towing company.
Broken down in a remote location? Here’s what to do
Breaking down anywhere remote can be a scary experience, and while you’re probably not stuck for room on the side of the road, it can be daunting knowing that help may be many hours away.
Besides following the above tips, it’s important that you stay out of the sun and remain safe inside or at least near your car. Conserve water and make sure you and your car are as visible as possible.
How to avoid breakdowns
Prevention is better than the cure right? When it comes to what to do when your car breaks down, never a truer word was said. The best way to prevent your car from breaking down at the worst possible time is by keeping it well serviced. Regular maintenance is always worth it. If you need a Subaru service, drop by City Subaru today and speak to our team.