This summer is likely to be the hottest in history — how are you planning on spending it? If you’re looking at taking a road trip, you need to know what to do if your vehicle breaks down. It’s not just a matter of practicality; knowing what to do is a matter of safety.
Additionally, before embarking on your road trip, it’s essential to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and has no outstanding recalls. You can check the vehicle’s history and conduct a recall lookup to gather important information about its maintenance, previous accidents, and any potential safety issues. This knowledge will help you make an informed decision about your vehicle’s reliability and safety before hitting the road.
Common Car Problems that Happen During a Road Trip
1. Accidents, Collisions, and Crashes
Accidents, collisions, and crashes are all obstacles that every driver will need to face while on the roads. Realistically, the more time you spend driving, the more you risk getting into an accident, which is why accidents are notorious on road trips.
Drivers that get into an accident or collision must ensure the area is safe before getting out of their vehicle; getting out in the wrong area can turn a minor crash into a deadly situation. Continue reading to learn what steps to take after a car accident and how to stay safe while you wait.
2. Tire Issues: Flats, Cracks, Pops, and Blows
Tire-based car issues are some of the most common car problems during road trips. From flats to pops, cracked wheel wells to broken treads, your vehicle’s tires take a lot of abuse.
Having a spare tire is one way to prepare for the eventual problems caused by your tires; however, having an executable plan in place beforehand can be the difference between a dangerous and safe situation.
Knowing what to do when you get a flat or blow a tire is extremely important. If it happens on a highway at high speeds, do you know what to do?
3. Mechanical Issues: Breaks, Failures, Cracks, and Faults
Vehicle manufacturers are great at pumping out for-sale components; depending on where a manufacturer sources parts, some drivers might see the inside of a car garage more than others.
Chances are, if your car isn’t in tip-top shape, you’re setting yourself up for a parts failure. Dealing with mechanical issues on a road trip can be frustrating, scary, and expensive.
Before planning any road trip, have your vehicle inspected by licensed professionals; 27-point checks are fine, but pay for the detailed assessment; it will save you time, money, and stress.
4. Electrical Issues: Disconnects, Shorts, Diagnoses, and Failures
Experienced drivers can ignore some electrical issues on a road trip; the overhead light going out two nights into a two-week camping trip is a bummer, but it’s not a trip-killer. Conversely, some electrical issues cannot be ignored.
Moreover, drivers should consistently check the check engine light during the road trip. The light will tell the driver immediately when the car notices something wrong. That immediate notification can help you discover what could be wrong and even how to fix it.
What to Do When Your Car Breaks
1. Slow Down and Pull Over
You might not remember, but in driving school, students are taught to “look for the space.” Consistently look for an opening along or in the available road space–in case of an emergency.
Suppose someone driving on a highway or at high speeds attempts to maintain control of the vehicle. Lulling the vehicle onto the shoulder or exit is the best chance of a safe outcome. Slow down and pull over the moment you suspect anything has gone wrong or changed.
2. Keep the Car Away from Onrushing Traffic
Maneuvering your car through traffic is vital to keeping yourself and everyone else safe. Staying out of the way of oncoming traffic can take time, depending on the conditions of the road. For example, staying out of the way on an icy highway can be challenging.
On a road trip, chances are good that a car isn’t going to go sliding on black ice into a ravine; the real threat comes from other drivers. Slow reaction times, poor depth perception, and general confusion can all result in dangerous actions and deadly outcomes.
3. Stay in the Vehicle until Help Arrives
When frantic, the mind does strange things—it may occur to the driver and passengers to exit the car. Getting out dramatically increases the chance of further accidents and harm. Upon getting the vehicle into a safe location, stay inside the vehicle, away from oncoming traffic (from both directions).
The reasons for this are multifold. You are safest within the vehicle. From within, drivers are blocked from other vehicles, and even scammers and thugs. On a road trip, staying inside the vehicle is essential since unfamiliar surroundings can be dangerous.
4. Find a Mechanic or Get Roadside Assistance
Once safe, the next steps are recovery, diagnosis, and, hopefully, fixing the problems. If in an unfamiliar area, locals can direct you to the closest garage, but it is safer to rely on the suggestions of the local authorities.
Nowadays, many people acquire different types of car insurance to pay for roadside assistance as part of their coverage. In most cases, roadside towing can be used a few times per year, whereas roadside tire changes are complementary in some areas.
Keep Calm with the Car Breaks
The most important thing to remember about your vehicle is that it can be dangerous or safe. Keep calm and maintain control until you can reach authorities. If you see other cars broken down on the road, move over and slow down for everyone’s safety.