The Car Coach: Car break downs
More Americans are driving instead of flying on their family vacations, new drivers are hitting the highways on college road trips, and road construction season is upon us. Along with the joys of owning a car come the concerns of a possible breakdown. How will you perform in the face of adversity? Lauren Fix, the Car Coach, has some helpful tips.
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Things To Remember When Your Car Breaks Down:
1. First things first: get your car off the road. Even when things go seriously wrong, moving vehicles usually have enough momentum to get your car to the side of the road. Turn on your hazard lights. When you reach the side of the road, put the car in park and engage the emergency brake.
2. Call for help. If the problem is serious, a roadside assistance program is a great help. Many manufacturers offer free road service when you buy your new auto. To see if you’re eligible, check your owner’s manual.
3. Let other drivers know that you're in trouble. Hazard lights are a start, but they don't necessarily shout to the world that you're having car problems. If you can get out of the car safely and if you have road flares or LED light sources available, place a couple of them about 50 feet behind your car.
4. Stay with the car. If you've called AAA or another roadside service, they typically can't do anything to a vehicle without the driver present. In addition, roadways are dangerous places for people on foot -- in fact, about 4,000 pedestrians are killed each year in the U.S. The situation is far more deadly when cars are flying by at 60 or 70 miles per hour.
5. If you don’t know about auto repair - wait for the pros. If you've got some tinkering experience, you might be able to identify a loose battery cable, but if your problem is a flat tire and you've never changed one before, leave it to the professionals. Changing tires can be tricky, even under ideal conditions -- and frankly, perched on the shoulder of a highway isn't what we'd call "ideal." If you do know how to change a tire, proceed with caution.
6. Use common sense. Every breakdown is different, depending on where you are, what you're driving, the time of day, the underlying problem, and so on. Don't exit the car on the same side that traffic is flowing. Exercise caution and stay in the car with your seatbelt fastened for your safety.
7. Be wary of strangers. Your parents probably told you that a thousand times when you were young, but it bears repeating. There are plenty of good Samaritans out there, eager to help folks in trouble. However, there are also a handful of bad eggs that can really spell trouble. If a stranger pulls over and offers help, it's probably best to remain in the car with the doors locked. Roll down the window a bit and tell them that help is on the way. Call the police if need be.