You’ll probably experience one at some point. Don’t wait until an unexpected breakdown hits you to prepare yourself for when it does. Some basic knowledge and provisions can prevent major headache.

  • First, maneuver to the shoulder or the right side street if you’re in motion and hit your hazard lights. Depending on where you are, other drivers are often willing to help push. However, if you’re on a highway and your engine dies, you might have to stay IN the car. Even though it might be stressful, getting out of your car can be extremely dangerous on a highway.
  • Next, figure out if you can deal with the issue by your lonesome. Overheated engines (steam pouring out of the hood) can be bandaged by blasting the cabin heating and, if a lack of coolant is the culprit, adding water to the clear plastic tank near the radiator. Be sure the engine is cool before you do this.
  • If you have a spare tire and a changing kit, flats can be a simple matter. Find the proper jacking point for lifting your vehicle (the owner’s manual should help you locate it), and pretend you’re replacing a light bulb. Unscrew the bolts, swap the rubber, screw in the bolts. Note that spares aren’t intended to be long term replacements.

  • Your car simply failing to start is usually the fault of a dead battery. Keep brief how-to instructions with jumper cables if you’re prone to forgetting the method, and if you don’t keep a set at all, see if you can ask a kindly looking fellow nearby for help. Here’s how to use Jumper cables according to Kelly’s Garage:
    1. Make sure both cars are completely off.
    2. Connect the positive cable (red)(+) to the positive post (+) of the dead battery.
    3. Connect the other end of the positive cable to the good battery.
    4. Connect the negative cable (black)(-) to the negative post of the good battery.
    5. Connect the negative cable to a metal part of the dead vehicles engine.  Do not attach the negative cable to the negative post.
    6. Get in your vehicle and start it up.  Once it is started, disconnect the cables in the reverse order.


Other problems may require more experience and knowledge, though if you’re capable of reviving the machine on your own but don’t have the supplies, consider…

Who to call

…calling a friend. Owing a buddy a big favor and asking them to retrieve what you need could save a lot of trouble.

Otherwise, it’s time to call for roadside service – your auto club or nearby towing. Either will move your car where it needs to go to have your troubles sorted out. If you’ve got no cell, police patrols will make sure you’re okay and call for you.