What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down on the Side of the Road
You’re driving and the service light comes on. Or maybe your car starts to shake and make a funny noise. A shudder runs through you as you think:
“What would I do if my car broke down right now?”
If you’ve never experienced car problems, you may think of your car as being indestructible. At some point, though, you will most likely experience car failure. If this happens, you’ll want to know how to keep safe, and how to get out of this position as soon as possible. Luckily, with a few tips and the right tow company, you’ll be back on the road in no time.
It Starts with Knowing Where you Are
When you call for assistance, one of the first things you’ll be asked is where you are. You wouldn’t believe how many people can’t give helpful directions or location points for where they’ve broken down.
Before you make the call, take note of where you are. This means identifying cross streets, major exits, and landmarks. The more specific, the better – so try to mention nearby restaurants, service stations, mile markers, and shopping centers. Any details you can give the tow company on the other end of the phone is incredibly helpful.
Stay calm, and Move to Safety
Most problems come with a warning sign, whether that’s a smell, a sound, some wobbling. When you know something is wrong, it’s most important to NOT PANIC. At the first signs of trouble, take your foot off of the accelerator. Braking suddenly may only exacerbate the problem and put you in danger. Check your mirrors, signal, and slowly make your way to the shoulder as safely as possible.
If you’re in the left lane of a busy highway, and unable to get to the far right shoulder, then the median or left shoulder is fine.
It’s particularly frightening if your car is inoperable while in traffic. If this happens, do not attempt to push your car. Put on your emergency flashers, leave your vehicle, and get out of harm’s way.
Make You and Your Car Visible
Once you’ve safely navigated out of the lanes of traffic, make sure your car is visible to passerby. Turn your flashers on. If it’s dark, you can also turn your interior lights on for added visibility. If you have an emergency roadside kit in your car that comes with reflected triangles, put those behind your vehicle on the shoulder, avoiding the lane of traffic.
Some people will tie a handkerchief to their antenna, or attach something bright, in order to better stand out. More-prepared drivers have road flares. If you do, place the first flare 10 feet behind the vehicle. Place the second 100 feet behind, directly in line with the middle of the bumper.
Do you stay in the vehicle or leave it?
Once you’re safely pulled over, safety experts agree that it’s best to remain in your vehicle until your help arrives. So, if you are able to get to the shoulder of the freeway, highway, or road, then remaining in your car is the best option.
However, if you’ve stopped in the middle of traffic and there is not a safe way to exit your vehicle, then do not attempt to get out of your car until help has arrived. Weigh your options and make the smartest decision. Only leave your vehicle if you are in the middle of traffic, and it is safe to do so.
An important note – once pulled over, do not stand directly in front of or behind your car. You want to get far away from moving cars and away from traffic, if you are able to.
Inspect Your Vehicle
Take a look at your car to see if you can assess where the trouble is. If it’s simply a flat tire, make sure you’re far enough away from traffic to safely change it. If it appears to be anything more complicated than that, it’s best to call in a professional. Wait for the tow truck inside your car with the doors locked if your car is safely out of traffic’s way. If you were unable to make it to the shoulder safely, and your car is still in the roadway, stand away from your car out of traffic’s way.
Call for Help
We mean with your cell phone. If you get help from other motorists, that’s wonderful; however, it could put you in danger (if a motorist does help, make sure you get the name/phone number before he/she starts assisting you).
When you speak with your service provider, ask for an estimated arrival time. If it’s a long time, and you feel unsafe, please communicate this with the dispatcher. They could send someone out sooner, or arrange for you to get to safety.
Back on the Road
Before you know it, help will have arrived and get you started in the right direction to continue your travels safely.
Now, we hope you don’t find yourself in this situation, stranded on the side of the road. We know how stressful it can be – that’s why we pride ourselves on quick, friendly service, and on getting you and your car off the road as soon as possible. Chappelle’s Towing is available 24/7 365. The next time you’re in a tricky spot you can count on us to get you out.