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Sep 24, 2014

How to not to panic when Your Car Breaks Down

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Even in the best-case scenario, a breakdown is still a frustrating and stressful situation. A breakdown can even be kind of scary considering that they’re unexpected and can leave you stranded in an unfamiliar area. But they don’t have to be cause for fear and panic.

Broken Down Car

A little preparation can go a long way! If you have the right supplies and know what to do, you’ll be able to keep your cool and get back on the road in no time.

Supplies and Preparation

  • Bad weather gear
  • A lot of breakdowns happen in inclement weather, so it is important to keep your car stocked with some basic supplies: warm clothes, blanket, a rain jacket, cat litter or sand (to use for traction on slippery surfaces), an ice scraper, and a small shovel.

  • Visibility gear 
  • You’ll want to make sure your car is visible to traffic in order to avoid a collision, so equipment like reflective triangles or flares, a flashlight with working batteries and a reflective vest are essential.

  • Basic auto equipment
  • Some breakdowns can be fixed fairly easily (at least temporarily) with just a little effort, if you have the right equipment. Keep some basic fluids for topping up, a spare tire in working order, and jumper cables in your car, and you’ll be prepared for these minor breakdowns.

  • Roadside assistance membership
  • Becoming a member of a roadside assistance organization like CAA is a great way to ensure that you will always have easy access to a tow truck or mechanical help.

  • Charged cell phone
  • You never know how far away the nearest landline will be when you break down. So it is important to have a charged cell phone with you whenever you hit the road. Make sure you have saved the numbers for your emergency contacts and your roadside assistance organization in your phone ahead of time.

  • First aid kit
  • Sudden breakdowns can sometimes lead to accidents. Just in case, keep a first aid kit stored in your car to treat any minor injuries.

What to do

  • Get out of traffic
  • As you feel your car sputtering out, use what momentum you have left to pull over to the shoulder or some safe spot. The goal is to get your car out of traffic, to avoid a collision. This is especially important if darkness or weather has reduced the visibility.

  • Keep yourself safe
  • If you were not able to get your car out of the way of traffic, then you should walk away from your car to a safe distance from the road.

  • Call for assistance
  • If you have roadside assistance membership, give them a call. You may also want to call a friend or family member to let them know where you are and if you need help.

Above all else, it’s important to remain calm when your car breaks down. Adding frustration to an already stressful position isn’t ideal, so take a few deep breaths and find the solution that suits your situation best as soon as possible.


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