What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down: 4 Simple Steps

You’re driving along, jamming out to “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, when suddenly you hear a sputtering sound and your vehicle rolls to a stop. Don’t panic. Your car just broke down, but it’s not the end of the world. As Rachel Platten would say, “Starting right now I’ll be strong.” Here’s how to handle a vehicle breakdown in four simple steps.

  1. Pull Over
  2. Turn On Your Emergency Flashers
  3. Exit Your Vehicle Cautiously
  4. Find Your Location
Rachel Platten knows how to get you through this.
Rachel Platten knows how to get you through this.

Step 1 – Pull Over

If your car or engine starts smoking, sputtering or turns into a transformer, pull over to the right as far as possible. You need to do this for two reasons: 1) You gotsta be courteous to others on the road and get out of the way ASAP (don’t be that person who causes a traffic jam) and 2) You need to relocate to a safe spot where you can avoid getting hit by a moving vehicle. If your car dies before you’re able to pull over, don’t get out of the car in the middle of traffic. In this instance call roadside assistance or, if you don’t have it, a police officer to help you. You don’t want to chance getting hurt in the middle of a busy road. 

If your car is a transformer, you should probably avoid driving it altogether.
If your car is a transformer, you should probably avoid driving it altogether.

Step 2 – Turn On Your Emergency Flashers

After you pull over, you need to switch on your hazard lights, or emergency flashers, to make your vehicle clearly visible to other drivers. This says, Hey! Look at me! Don’t hit me, please. If your battery is dead and your lights aren’t working, try hanging something out the window like a brightly colored T-shirt or piece of paper to alert oncoming traffic that something is wrong. 

Oh hey, hello. Stranded on the road over here.
Oh hey, hello. Stranded on the road over here.

Step 3 – Exit Your Vehicle Cautiously

If your car is smoking, you probably want to get out of it. And by probably, we mean most definitely. When you exit your vehicle, be cautious and try to do so on the side opposite the road. Safety first, people. If your car seems to be okay and isn’t showing any signs of smoke (dead battery, out of gas, etc.) feel free to just stay in the car with the doors locked while you await your tow truck or help from the police department. If at all possible, try to avoid walking away and leaving an abandoned vehicle on the side of the road and stay with your broken down car until help arrives. Don’t try to make any repairs to your if there is heavy traffic. 

Don’t be like Brad when exiting your vehicle. Brad did bad.
Don’t be like Brad when exiting your vehicle. Brad did bad.

Step 4 – Find Your Location

Look around for any information that could help a tow truck or service vehicle find your location, such as exit signs or address signs. Also, this is why you have a smartphone, guys. Use dat Maps app. If you’re one of those people with terrible luck whose car breaks down regularly, we recommend having the number for AAA or some other roadside assistance coverage saved to your phone for instances like these. 

You don't need to lick your finger to determine wind direction. Thank goodness for smartphones.
You don’t need to lick your finger to determine wind direction. Thank goodness for smartphones.

If you can remember these four steps than everything will be fine. Just because your car broke down doesn’t mean that you have to break down, too.

You got this.
You got this.