Road Trip Tips: What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down

Having a car is such a treat. You can come and go as you please. Whether you’re heading for the local grocery store or a long road trip, all you need to do is grab your keys, and off you go.

But what will you do when your beloved road companion suddenly conks out on you in the middle of nowhere?

Road 911

Car troubles do happen, regardless of whether you have a brand new set of wheels or a quality used car. It’s especially troublesome when it happens on a holiday trip. Your car breaking down on the highways or the byways could dampen your plans and spirits, so it is always good to be ready for any eventuality.

Car Breaks Down

Here are the top five tips to follow when you find yourself having car trouble while on a road trip:

1. Calm Down

First of all, do not panic. Once you notice your vehicle breaking down, it is best to keep your wits about you. When you have presence of mind, then you will be able to handle the situation better and think of solutions to your problem.

It will also make it possible for you to be aware of your surroundings. You need to take note of key details in the environment such as landmarks, road signs, or exits. This information will be helpful when you call for assistance later on.

2. Pull Over

When you can, pull over onto the road shoulder as safely as possible. Don’t forget to use your turning lights. If your vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and is unable to move further to a shoulder, turn on your hazard lights.

Do not attempt to push your car out of the highway, as this will increase your risk of getting into an accident.

3. Make Your Vehicle Visible

To avoid accidents, it is best to make your vehicle easily visible. Aside from turning on your emergency flashers, you should also use your Early Warning Device to warn other motorists that your vehicle has stalled.

In addition, you could raise the hood of your car and tie a bright scarf, handkerchief, or piece of clothing to the antenna or door handle so the car can be easily seen by other road users.

4. Keep Safety in Mind

Leave your vehicle only if there is a safe place that you can move to, and especially away from the highway and fast moving vehicles.

If you choose to stay inside your car, make sure that you lock the doors and windows. If the engine is unaffected, do not let the engine run for extended periods so you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

On the other hand, if you deem it safe to exit your car, exit from the side of the car that is away from oncoming traffic. It is best to have a flashlight handy, especially during nighttime or in bad weather.

When asking for assistance from a fellow motorist, ask for their identification to ensure your safety and security. If you have a companion with you, leave the information with them and let them know where you are going and when they can expect your return.

5. Call for Assistance

If you are stranded on the road with a defective vehicle, you can call the local 911. Also, if you are a member of a roadside assistance service, then you should call the hotline right away and inform them of the situation. Other car dealers offer 24/7 roadside assistance as well, so you can consider this service.

When calling for assistance, provide a description of your vehicle, the condition of the car (e.g., flat tire, dead engine, etc.), and other special instructions (e.g., special towing considerations, medical assistance, etc.). You should also be as specific as possible when giving your location to speed up the road rescue process.

All Systems Go

Fortunately, there are authorized service centers that can serve as your trustworthy partner in ensuring your car’s condition before you leave for your road trip. These centers have the latest tools and equipment that can appropriately address your car’s needs. Professionally trained technicians are also available to make sure that your car is handled with expertise.

Certified car shops also have a variety of offers for car servicing that can assure you that your car is being well taken care of, at the most competitive price.

When you are all hyped up for a vacation away from home, always make sure to bring your car for a health check beforehand. This ensures not only your enjoyment, but also your safety and the well-being of your road trip companions and other road users.


Luigi Rubinacci is the Director of Strategic Ventures at AW Rostamani Automotive Group. AUTOTRUST Multibrand Car Service and Accident Repair is the Group’s strategic division that deals with the accident repair and service of all brands and makes of cars. Its service centers currently operate from Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

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