Tips for Handling an Automobile Breakdown

Anyone who has ever had a breakdown while driving knows how stressful it can be. If it happens to you, it's important to be prepared. While there are many problems that can cause cars to break down, the most common reasons include an electrical fault, a dead or low battery, a flat tire or blowout, an overheating engine, transmission failure, low oil pressure or level, and running out of fuel. These breakdowns often result in calls to an emergency roadside assistance service, who may end up towing the vehicle to an auto mechanic.

You never know where or when your car will break down. Waiting for help from emergency services in a strange place or at night can be frightening, especially if you're alone. While roadside assistance usually arrives quickly, it can sometimes take longer than you might like for them to reach you.

Be Prepared for a Vehicle Breakdown


It's important to be prepared for a breakdown. There are several things to remember that can help keep you safe and get you back on the road more quickly.

If the vehicle is having a problem but is still drivable for a short distance, drive it to a safe place, such as a parking lot. If the car is no longer running but can still coast, steer it to the right shoulder as far off the road as you can, but try to avoid stopping on a hill. Once the vehicle is stopped, turn on the emergency flashers. If it's not possible to get the car completely off the roadway, turn on the emergency flashers and think about getting away from the vehicle and moving to a safer location. Never stay inside a car when there's a chance that it may be struck by another vehicle. Because of the danger of a collision, it's usually not recommended to push the car off the road.

When it's safe to get out of the vehicle, both driver and passengers should exit from the door on the side facing away from traffic. While waiting for help, don't stand in front of or behind your car. In addition to using your emergency flashers, you can also let other drivers know your car is disabled by raising the hood, tying a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or door handle, or using warning triangles or flares. This will communicate your situation to other drivers and should encourage them to slow down and drive cautiously as they approach your vehicle.

After the driver and passengers are safe, contact a roadside assistance provider, such as CAA, for assistance. Look around at the surroundings, landmarks, buildings or road signs to relay your location to the dispatcher. When help arrives, the emergency assistance technician will try to fix the vehicle. If that's not possible, they'll tow the car to a repair facility where it will be diagnosed by an auto mechanic. If you're travelling away from your local area, you may not know where to find a good repair facility. A reputable service can make recommendations to approved repair shops.

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Tips for Handling an Automobile Breakdown


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