If you’ve experienced owning a car, you know that a breakdown, whether due to your car battery, engine failure, or maybe just a flat tire, is in your stars. And if that car breaks down in the middle of the road, where you have to contend with angry, impatient drivers and your own panicking self, what was once a simple inconvenience can spiral into a complete mess. Here are some of our tips to help keep you cool no matter how bad the situation gets.
When your car starts to sputter and stop running efficiently, the first thing you need to do is to use up nearly all of the car’s remaining energy to park at the side of the road, far away from direct traffic. This is your aim as much as possible, before your car completely stops running. This is also what you should aim for if your car gets a flat tire. Don’t just stop in the middle of the road and attempt to call somebody on your cell. Your safety is important, but this ensures that you try your best not to inconvenience anyone, too. If your emergency involves an accident, first get out of the car and wait or gesture to the driver to do the same.
Try to look for an emergency bay as much as possible, especially if you’re on the highway, or an open, grassy area.
If you’ve parked in a dangerous area, such as a stretch of road infamous for crime incidents, stay inside your car with the doors securely locked and call for help using your cell phone. Be wary of unsolicited tow truck scams—not every random stranger is a good Samaritan. These tow truck scams operate by seeing your car and towing it for you, but while they do so they may charge absurdly high fees. Ensure that you have copies of all invoices and bills, and take photos or take note of the truck’s license plates, as well all of your car’s papers, just in case, for insurance purposes.
Every time you know you’re out for a long drive, or even if it’s just a quick trip to the supermarket—you’ll never know when your car might just break down. Make sure that you have some staple supplies such as jumper cables, a car jack, some heavy rope, a change of clothes, warning triangles, a flashlight, and a tire inflator, to start.
If you think you’ll be stuck for a while waiting for help to come, it’s also useful to have some canned goods, water, and a spare hygiene kit handy in your car. And if you can, get some rolls of tissues, push out the cardboard tubes, flatten the tissue paper and stash it in your car. Also bring some plastic bags in case you need to go to the bathroom and aren’t comfortable with roughing it.
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