Are you sure you know what to do if your car breaks down on the side of the road?
While maintaining your car regularly is the best preventative measure, these things can still happen—and when they do, it’s often completely unexpected. Having a solid plan in place can make the experience much less stressful.
Read on to take a short quiz to see how well prepared you are for these kinds of unforeseen circumstances. You might be surprised at some of our pro suggestions!
Take the 5 Question Break Down Quiz
Consider that your car has broken down while you’re on the road. See how you would answer the following questions:
- Do you understand how to safely pull over, park, and keep yourself out of danger, especially on a busy road or highway?
- Do you know how to alert other drivers that you’ve broken down with the proper equipment?
- Do you know what to do to prevent the battery from draining?
- Do you know how to handle the situation if you don’t have a cell phone with you?
- Are you a member of a roadside assistance program?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you should be confident that you know what to do in the event that your car or truck breaks down on the side of the road. It’s an inconvenient situation, but it’s happened to almost everyone and isn’t insurmountable by any means.
If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, then read on to learn exactly what to do in case of roadside trouble.
Safely Pulling Over, Parking, and Staying Out of Danger
Even if you’re on a country road, removing yourself from traffic should be your first priority. Pull over to the right side of the road, onto the shoulder if possible. If your vehicle is capable of limping or coasting, try to position it in an area where it can be easily seen (i.e., not immediately after a blind turn).
After you’ve safely parked the car, you should then:
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Turn your wheels away from the road (especially important if on an incline)
- Put on the parking brake
- Call for help
Whenever possible avoid getting out of your car on busy highways—even if you’re a great mechanic, odds are you won’t be able to resolve the problem without tools or assistance, and there’s no sense putting yourself in unnecessary danger.
In situations where you must get out of the car, see the following section.
Alerting Other Drivers & Equipment You Should Have in Your Trunk
Anytime you’re on the side of the road, increasing the visibility of your vehicle is important. Since not all breakdowns occur on a straightaway in the daylight, keeping a set of reflective road triangles in your trunk is a very good idea. Place them in front of and behind your vehicle.
Additionally, opening your hood is the universal sign for “I’m having car trouble.”
How to Prevent Battery Drainage
Since you may be waiting for assistance for up to an hour, you want to avoid draining the battery on your car. If it’s still running, shut it off, and disable any unnecessary electronics. A good exception to this rule is if you need to charge your phone and your car is equipped to do so—it’s better to have a drained car battery than being unable to make calls.
What to Do If You Break Down Without a Phone
While most of us never leave home without our trusty smartphones these days, all hope isn’t lost if you ever find yourself in a situation where your car has broken down without a phone (believe it or not, this is just the way it was for everyone until fairly recently!).
Most major highways have call boxes posted every few miles. If you happen to be near one, take advantage. If not, placing a white “flag” of some sort will alert highway patrol that you need help. A t-shirt, rag, or even grocery bag will suffice, and to be extra sure, pop the hood on your car. On a major highway, you typically wouldn’t have to wait for longer than an hour.
The Importance of Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance is the best possible protection you can have in the event of a break down. In addition to a large number of other benefits, your vehicle will be professionally towed to the nearest service center. In situations where the problem can be resolved on the spot (such as running out of gas), you’ll have someone to rely on.
BG On The Road® roadside assistance is an affordable way to get this kind of protection and emergency help. Tows, jump starts, tire changes, gas delivery, and more are included.
We hope that this post has been informative and helpful—with winter right on our doorstep, now is the time to get prepared. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or find the authorized BG service center nearest to you.