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