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What Should I Do If My Car Breaks Down?

Publish Date: July 1, 2022

Even with the most diligent car maintenance, an unexpected vehicle breakdown can still catch you by surprise. In the event of a breakdown, make sure you know what to do next to ensure that you stay safe until help arrives. Keep reading to learn more about important next steps to take after your car breaks down.

Tip #1: Safely Pull Over

Whether you’re traveling on a major highway or a country road, getting off the road safely is an important first step. As soon as you realize there’s a problem, be sure to turn on your hazard lights and safely make your way to the right shoulder of the road, if possible. Unless you have no other choice, you should not pull onto the left shoulder of a highway. Watch for traffic in the lanes you’re trying to cross, and only proceed when you know it’s safe to do so. Keep in mind that if your car is not operating properly, you won’t be able to move as quickly as normal. If you’re on a road that does not have a shoulder, try to find an equally safe place to pull off, like a parking lot.

Tip #2: Stay Safe Once You’ve Stopped

Once you’re off the road, be sure to turn your wheel away from the road and engage your emergency brake. This is especially important if you’re stopped on a hill, as it will prevent your vehicle from rolling. Be aware of your surroundings, and never get out of your vehicle unless it’s safe to do so. In the event that your vehicle breaks down in the middle of a lane and you cannot move it, contact emergency services and stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on. If you manage to pull your vehicle off to the side of a busy highway and need to exit your vehicle, get out through the passenger side door. It’s always a good idea to pop your hood, as it’s a universal signal to other drivers that you’re having car trouble, and will alert them that your vehicle is stranded. See any signs of smoke or flames? Get out of your vehicle quickly and safely, and immediately call 911 if you haven’t already done so.

Tip #3: Call For Help

Who do you call if your car breaks down? It all depends on the situation. If your tire blows out and you feel confident that you can safely change the tire to get back on the highway, you may not need to call for help. But if you’re not mechanically inclined and don’t know what the problem is, chances are that you need to call a tow truck. Some insurance companies provide roadside assistance options, so make sure to investigate what your company offers. If you want to be extra prepared, have a list of emergency numbers ready, so you can save time by not having to look them up in the event of a vehicle breakdown.

Should your vehicle break down after dark, in addition to turning on your hazard lights, utilize flares or reflective triangles to let other drivers know that your vehicle is stranded. It’s usually recommended that you put one flare around ten feet behind your vehicle, and another further away, up to 200 or 300 feet behind your disabled car. Unless it’s unsafe to do so, you should then stay inside your vehicle until help arrives.

Reach Out For More Info

Unsure if your insurance offers roadside assistance coverage, or if you have the right coverage to protect you in case of an accident? Get in touch with your local agent with any questions. They’ll help you get the answers you need to feel safe on the road, no matter what your destination may be.

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