What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down

Car breakdowns can happen to anyone, and there are so many reasons it might happen to you. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight bit of debris on the road to completely ruin your day and render your car undrivable. Other times, it can be down to faults internally, and so on…

We’re not discussing the reasons your car breaks down in today’s article! Rather, we’re looking at what you should do when this happens to you. There is a right way to act following a breakdown, so read through these steps to understand what you need to do:

Get to a safe place out of the way of traffic

If you break down while driving your car, it’s normal to have a mini panic. The important thing to remember is that you need to get to a safe place. This will typically mean pulling off onto the side of the road, away from traffic. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t put your hazard lights on while you are doing this. It’s okay to flash them for a few seconds, but then you need to indicate that you are pulling off to the side. Otherwise, you can confuse the cars ahead of you when they see you listing to the right to get to safety. Flash the hazards for a bit, but don’t forget to indicate and then park on the side of the road. 

If there’s nowhere to pull over, you have to just slowly make your car come to a stop as wide as you can to the side of traffic. Here, you will need to put your hazard lights on so everyone knows you’re in trouble and are trying to slow down. 

Make your vehicle noticeable

This is important for a couple of reasons, the first of which is to prevent other cars from driving into you. Even if you’re on the side of the road, you still need to turn your hazard lights on to make your car as visible as possible. Do this when you have come to a stop, and then head to your trunk where you should have your emergency kit. 

It’s crucial that every car owner packs an emergency kit in the back of their car at all times. Realistically, it should be packed the moment you drive the car for the first time, and it stays in there until you need to use it. A few things inside that will come in handy include a reflective jacket, a reflective warning triangle, and a torch. All of these items can help you make your car more visible and prevent further accidents from happening. Get out of the car, place your triangle next to it, and pop your reflective jacket on. 

Get out of the vehicle on the safe side

Obviously, you need to get out of your car when it breaks down. However, be sure you exit on the safe side. This will be whichever side of the car the traffic is not on. If you pull over to the side of the road, it’ll mean the safe side is the passenger’s side. Try to get out of this door if you can, or else you need to wait until it is safe to get out. 

All other passengers should also get out of the car, but it’s a good idea to leave pets inside – unless there’s a serious issue, like your car is starting to emit smoke or be on fire. Keeping pets in the car is smart in all other scenarios as there’s a risk they could run into traffic. 

Call for assistance

At this point, you should have your car safely parked, visible to traffic, and you will be standing a safe distance from the road. Now, you can call for assistance. Most car insurance premiums include breakdown cover, meaning you have a number to call to help you if you break down. If you’ve got this, then call your breakdown assistance provider to get them to come and help you. If you don’t, you could call a friend or call the local authorities and they will give you a number to call. 

Wait for the assistance to arrive, and tell them what happened. In some cases, they can fix the problem on the spot, or at least get your car ready to drive again. If this happens, make sure you join the traffic safely before continuing your journey. If not, they will tow you to a safe location where your car can be looked at thoroughly. 

Get your car looked at by professionals

Even if it has been fixed on-site, a wise decision is to book your car in for servicing following a breakdown. Now, the ideal thing to do is see a certified service provider for your car brand. For instance, if you have a Ford, you would go somewhere like Chapman Ford for servicing, rather than an independent service shop. The benefit of seeing certified service providers is that they will know your specific car better than independent providers. Thus, they have access to more knowledge and parts, ensuring that you get the best service possible to fix your car. 

Anyway, the reason you need to get your car looked at is to identify any underlying issues. Even if your tire bursts, a checkup is useful to possibly identify why it burst. Could it have been down to a suspension problem? Seeing professionals after a breakdown will ensure that your car is in perfect condition and safe to drive. Of course, if it needs to be repaired following the breakdown, this is also the best way to ensure it gets properly fixed. 

There you go; the correct way to act when your car breaks down. A few notes on what not to do: don’t be an idiot and recklessly veer off to the side of the road without indicating. Don’t leave your car in the dark where no one can see it, and don’t attempt to fix anything yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Alicia Baker
Alicia is a Canadian writer whose enthusiasm for cultural and automotive are combined in her writing. Her background includes links to insurance, finance, and automotive safety.