We all know summer road trips aren’t always trouble-free. Dealing with snarled traffic, bad weather, or restless passengers can be taxing but they won’t necessarily stop you from getting to your destination. However, would you be able to deal with an emergency on the road?
You can handle car trouble better if you are prepared. This means knowing what to do if you have a minor accident or a vehicle breakdown.
Six Things You Should Have On Your Next Road Trip:
- Roadside assistance plan. A plan gives you peace-of-mind in case you lock your keys in your car, have a dead car battery or run out of gas.
- Owner’s manual. It’s the go-to source to learn how to change a flat tire, identify a check engine light or tell you what type of oil to use.
- Notebook and pen or pencil. Smart phones can do the job too, however if the battery is dead, you’ll need pen and paper to record information if you’re involved in an accident.
- Emergency LED road flare. These are more visible, reliable and safer than old school flares.
- A cell phone. Don’t forget to bring along a back up battery or car charger.
- Driving directions and map. Having GPS in your car or phone is great but what if it fails? It’s a good idea to have a printed map just in case.
Here Are Some Roadside Emergencies You Might Encounter:
Collision with another vehicle
Being involved in a collision is a real concern. According the insurance industry trade group, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the average driver will have a collision approximately once every 18 years. Your chances go up if you’re a teen driver or if you travel late at night, commute on congested roads, are under the influence of a drug or substance, speed, or drive while using a mobile phone to call or text.
If you’re involved in an accident and assuming it’s minor, pull both vehicles carefully to the side of the road, remember to turn on your emergency flashers. If the road is too busy, remain in the vehicle, call the police and wait for help to arrive. Also, call your insurance company and follow their instructions. If it’s safe to exit the vehicle, exchange personal details with the other driver(s) and witnesses. Be sure to write down important information like driver’s license details, the license plate number, and the location of the incident. Also, photograph the damage on both cars.
Running out of gas, a broken fuel pump or a malfunctioning alternator are a few of the things that can make your engine stall. If your engine stops while driving, try shifting to neutral and try to restart the engine. When the engine restarts, shift back to drive and have the vehicle inspected by an AAA Approved Auto Repair shop as soon as possible because you might not be able to get the car restarted if this happens again.
If you can’t restart the engine, slow down and carefully steer to the side of the road. When you do this, you’ll find it hard to steer because you won’t have power steering. On top of that, your power brakes will go out too, so it will be harder for you to stop your car, use the emergency brake if you need to.
Once your safely stopped, activate your hazard lights and call for help. Times like this are why you should keep important telephone numbers in your glove box. This includes phone numbers for roadside assistance, insurance, and friends and family members.
If your traveling on the highway and you have a flat tire, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers. Slowly drive your car to the right and onto a wide shoulder if one is available, otherwise exit the freeway and drive to a parking lot or residential street for better safety. Please note you will might ruin the tire and possibly the wheel by continuing to drive, however buying a new car tire is better than taking a risk by changing a flat tire along a busy road.
Inspect the tire, it just might be low on air. If it’s flat, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to change the tire. If you have a roadside assistance plan, just call your representative for help. Once the spare is on, check the tire pressure and drive to a nearby gas station if the spare is low on air. Remember, a spare tire is a temporary fix. As soon as possible, take your flat tire to a tire service center to repair or replace the flat.
If you have a blow out, you’ll hear a loud pop and the steering will become harder to control. Stay calm, firmly grip the steering wheel, and carefully drive out of traffic to a safe stopping place. Turn on your emergency flashers and call for assistance or change the tire if you prefer to do it yourself.
You can reduce your chances of having a flat or a blow out and needing to get new tires with regular auto maintenance. When was the last time you checked the pressure in the spare tire? Check the tire pressure monthly on all of your tires.It’s part of regular auto maintenance.
There are plenty of ingredients for a bad summer road trip in addition to traffic, weather and cranky passengers. Don’t let a roadside emergency catch you unprepared. By understanding a few automobile saftey tips ahead of time and staying on top of your car maintenance schedule, you’ll be more likely to have a great road trip.
If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining or repairing your your vehicle, always consult a mechanic you can trust, like First Tire & Automotive. Just call or stop by one of our three convenient Fort Bend County locations today. We’ll be happy to answer questions, go over estimates, and a recommended plan of action with you.
Photo credit: wwarby / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)