If you’ve ever spent hours waiting by the
side of the road for a tow truck in the dead of night because your car broke
down, you know how frustrating and frightening it can be. All alone with cars whizzing by only feet
away, your mind replays all the highlight reels of every caught-on-camera TV
show you ever saw. As the minutes tick
by and you realize how easy it would be for another car plow into the back of
yours or how terrible it would be were another motorist to stop only to demand
your wallet, the fear can become almost too much to take. That’s why I thought this week I’d dedicate this
blog to helping you make a breakdown less likely to cause you to break out in a
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The biggest issue with breakdowns is that
90% of them can be prevented. Most tire
blowouts are caused by treads worn too thin.
Many engine problems are caused by poor preventative maintenance or by drivers
who fail to heed warning lights on their dashboard. Therefore, the best way to keep from breaking
down is to break out your owner’s manual to perform the following tasks:
Learn the meaning of warning lights on your
vehicle. Your manual will not only tell
you what they mean, but if you need to heed them right away or can wait until
later to do so.
How low can you go? If you drive a late model car,
you can not only determine how far the gas in your tank will take you, but you
can also find out how much pressure is in all four tires, as well as whether
you have enough motor oil and coolant.
How often does your car need scheduled
maintenance? Ignoring routine and
preventative maintenance may save you some money in the short run, but when
something does break, it’s more likely to cost you a lot more than had you
heeded the recommendations listed in the manual.
What’s that noise? If your car starts to make squeaks,
squawks, thumps or bangs that you don’t recognize, the manual can help you
determine what is causing it and what you need to do about it. Ignore these noises and you’re likely to make
a tow truck driver’s day.
should you do if your car breaks down?
maintained motor vehicles are more likely to breakdown, even well-maintained
vehicles do sometimes succumb to engine problems or a blown tire. If that should happen, there’s a right way
and a wrong way to deal with the situation:
First and foremost, you need to alert other vehicles
to your situation. This means before you
reach for your cellphone to call for roadside assistance you need to activate
your vehicle’s emergency flashers.
Next, you need to coast your vehicle off the road to
a safe, flat locale that’s as far from traffic as possible. While the shoulder of the road is okay, if
you’re close enough to an exit that you can limp off the highway to a feeder
road, this is even better. The last
thing you want is to pull over only to be hit by another vehicle while you wait
Never leave your vehicle unattended or you may
return to find out that it’s no longer there.
Even if the only problem you have is being out of gas, it’s much safer
for you and your ride if you stay put.
If you don’t have roadside assistance, a better bet than hoofing it down
the highway would be to call a friend to ask them to bring you a gallon of
Unless you’re changing a flat tire, it’s preferable
to stay inside your vehicle until help arrives, especially if you breakdown on the
highway. If you deem it necessary to get
out of your vehicle, make sure you get out of the passenger side before
deploying road flares or looking under the hood. At night it’s extremely difficult to see a
pedestrian on the road. This increases
the likelihood of your getting hit. It’s
also a good reason to carry a flashlight in your car or use your smartphone’s
flashlight app to let other drivers know you’re outside your vehicle.
When you call for help, be as precise about your
location as possible so the tow truck driver can easily find you. If you have a GPS, use it to tell the driver
the nearest exit to where you’re broken down.
Make sure that the tow truck that responds to your
breakdown is the one you called. It’s
all too easy for you to get bamboozled by a rogue driver who’s trolling the
highway looking for anyone who broke down.
Let this lad hoist your ride onto the back of his truck and you let
yourself in for a shakedown of epic proportions. When you call for roadside assistance, make
sure you ask the operator the name of the company that’s being sent to your rescue. Then make sure the name on the truck that
arrives on the scene matches. If not, before
you get taken for a ride, call roadside assistance back to clarify the
situation. If the driver’s a rogue, he’ll
drive off before you finish the conversation.
Consider adding roadside assistance to your auto insurance
policy. Far from costing a fortune,
adding this option to your existing policy will add only a few dollars a month
to your premiums while providing a myriad of assistance to you that includes:
fuel delivery, towing, jumpstarts, unlocking the door, and flat tire repair. Some auto policies include roadside
assistance as part of their collision and comprehensive coverage. If you want to find out more about roadside
assistance, call your insurance agent today.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus
All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.
To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website