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What to do if your vehicle breaks down

What to do if your vehicle breaks down

One thing is certain – being stuck on the side of the road with a broken down car is never fun. But there are a few steps you can take to get yourself behind the wheel and back on the road sooner.

Breakdowns happen when you least expect it. Having your vehicle die on you on a quiet suburban street is one thing but having it happen on a highway or busy road where traffic is zooming past at 100 kilometres per hour poses a whole new level of risk.

Being prepaired for this unexpected and unfortunate event can mean the difference between danger and safety for both you and your car.

Here are a few steps to follow to help you cope with an unexpected car breakdown.

Steps to follow if your caught in a breakdown

1. Prevention is key

Your car can conk out at anytime but if you’re prepaired for the unforeseen it won’t be so stressfull when it actually happens. Reasons for breakdowns can vary but the most common causes are faulty car batteries, flat or damaged tyres and petrol problems. So, whether you’re taking off on a long road trip or a short drive around the corner, keep tabs on your vehicle’s health and insure it’s in optimal shape – this means regular servicing.

2. Store the essentials in your vehicle

Keep a list of emergency numbers, including your insurance provider and roadside assistance, stored in your mobile phone and written down kept safely somewhere in your vehicle. Keep a roadside safety kit in your car that contains all the useful tools to help you in case your car breaks down. In particular, car tools, a few litres of water and jumper cables.

3. Safely pull over

Always find a safe spot to pull over, such as a hard shoulder or breakdown lane, and position your vehicle as far away as possible from chaotic traffic. If you can feel your vehicle beginning to stall, start making your way to the left outer lane before it stops completely. 

4. Turn your hazard lights on

Immediately notify other drivers around you of your situation by turning on your hazard warning lights.

5. Call roadside assistance

If you’re on a busy highway, remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and contact roadside assistanceto notify them of your situation and location. If for some reason you don’t have a mobile phone handy, or your phone battery is dead, seek out an emergency telephone. Usually located on the side of the road on motorways, emergency telephones are free of charge and will connect you directly with emergency services.

6. Exit the vehicle if it’s safe to do so

If you’ve managed to park in a reasonably safe space out of the way of traffic or it isn’t safe to leave your car, it’s best to remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt safely fastened until help arrives. If you breakdown on on a busy road check to see if it’s safe to exit your vehicle and do so from the passenger door – away from bustling traffic. Try to avoid putting yourself in an unsafe situation by attemping to cross busy roads.

7. Wait for help in a safe spot

Always remain calm and find a safe spot to wait for assistance. If you do decide to leave your vehicle move behind a safety barrier or an embankment if there is one – it’s probably the safest place to be. If you have children with you make sure they stay with you at all times.

8. Stay alert

It’s crucial to ensure your breakdown doesn’t result in safety issues for you and other drivers by being vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times. Even though a breakdown is inconvenient, quick thinking and a few safety precautions can prevent most breakdown situations from turning into hazards.

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