What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down

car breaks down

Image credit: Car breakdown by Andrij Bulba via Flickr

Here’s a question that shows up in my mailbox a lot: “What should I do if my car breaks down?”

If you drive enough, car breakdowns are bound to happen whether you like it or not — so it’s best to be prepared.

Scared? Don’t be. Here are five smart things to do during a car breakdown (#3 is so simple yet effective!).

1. Get off the road.

Please don’t play chicken!

The sooner you get off the road, the sooner you’ll be out of harm’s way:

If you’re in a neighborhood, try to find a church.

If you’re in a downtown area, pull over in a business parking lot and find someone to give you a jump.

If you’re on a highway or interstate, pull over on the shoulder. Keep moving until you get to a straight section of the road. Don’t stop on a curve where no one can see you!

If your engine comes to a sudden stop, it might be impossible to stop in an ideal spot. In that case, stay inside your vehicle. It’s dangerous to cross the street when there’s cars swirling past in every direction.

2. Call for help.

Got AAA coverage? If so, put that membership to use.

Blocking traffic? If so, call 911 and notify the highway patrol.

Flat tire? You could change it, but it might be better to call a towing service — especially if you’re stopped on the interstate.

3. Take a deep breath.

This is not the time to panic. Close your eyes and take a few calming breaths. Seriously. Conscious breathing is scientifically proven to reduce stress. You’ll feel confident and in control after you calm down.

4. Let people know you’re stuck.

Pop your hood, turn on your emergency lights, and hang a towel or plastic bag out of your window. If it’s dark light some flares so other drivers can see you. No flares? Buy a pair. Do everything you can to get the attention of a police officer or someone who might be able to help you.

5. Expect the best (prepare for the worst).

Invest in a first aid and roadside emergency kit just in case your car ever breaks down. Trust me. They’re really nice to have during a car breakdown! Has your car ever got stuck on the side of the road? How did you deal with it? Tell us in the comments. Please share this blog with your friends so they will be ready for car breakdowns like you.