One thing that no driver wants to hear is that ominous engine noise telling him or her that something is wrong with the car. The sound of an imminent breakdown indicates being stuck in the middle of the road or freeway right now and stuck with a repair bill in the future.
There are some basic steps to follow if you find yourself in that situation though, as well as ones to avoid.
Regular Road Breakdowns
Let’s start by looking at what you should and shouldn’t do if your car breaks down on a standard road in a busy area.
- Try to get your car away from other drivers on the road by moving it into a side road or parking space before it stops working completely.
- Switch on the breakdown lights if you are not able to get the car to a safe position, to give other drivers warning.
- Get out of the car, but always use the door that is furthest away from the road and the traffic.
- Contact the nearest garage or vehicle repair service for help.
- Stand in the space between the traffic and your vehicle while you wait for help to arrive.
- Take any pets that might be in the car out while you are waiting on help arriving. They are safer in the vehicle.
- Flag down or accept help from other, random drivers. Wait for official assistance to come.
Now we will examine what to do and avoid if you suffer a vehicle breakdown on the freeway.
- Move the car off the main freeway as soon as you hear the sounds of engine trouble, before it becomes impossible to drive it at all.
- Try to stop as close to an emergency phone as you can
- Make sure that you and any passengers exit the vehicle using the doors that are away from the freeway and wait for help well away from the oncoming vehicles.
- Call for professional help using your mobile or the emergency phone.
- Try to fix the car yourself. There is a time and place for that, and a busy freeway is neither of these.
- Attempt to get obstructions out of the way. The professionals will be able to do that safely when they arrive to help.
Breakdown Prevention Measures
There are things that you can do to reduce the risk of a vehicle breakdown, with all of the inconvenience it causes.
- Take a look at the tires
The tread and pressure level of the tires should be checked regularly. It is better to buy new tires now than have them fail you on the road.
- Look out for fluid leakages
This can mean the brake fluid, engine oil or coolant. The best way to check for leaks is to park your car on something firm like concrete, as that will make spotting leaks easier than on grass.
- Make sure the battery works well
The easiest way to be sure that your car battery is not dying is to use a voltmeter on it. Most batteries start to fade after about three years of use.
- Test the air filter
Signs that the filter is not working will be if the engine is making strange noises and the exhaust pipe is emitting dark smoke. If that is the case, it needs to be cleaned or replaced.
- Turn the car on
This is the most basic safety test of all. Turning the car on and listening to the engine can identify a range of issues, from the starter to the battery.
These simple tests can help you avoid a painful breakdown on the road or freeway, but if that does happen, you will now know what to do.