Any time you travel in your vehicle there is the possibility of a breakdown. Whether your car is old or fresh off the lot accidents can occur and items can malfunction. If you are on a road trip even a minor issue can be a major problem if you are not prepared. It is highly recommended that you purchase roadside assistance insurance, if for no other reason than the peace of mind it will provide. However, by also preparing to address some of the most frequent problems yourself it is possible to save both time and money.
Before trying to tackle any roadside emergencies, you need to ensure you have all the necessary equipment on hand. Here is a list of the basics, of course you can adjust to meet your specific vehicle needs and depending on where you will be traveling.
Flashlight & spare batteries
Cellular phone & charger
First Aid Kit
Notepad & pen
Vehicle owner’s manual
Antifreeze & coolant
Tire pressure gauge
Safety Triangle or flares
Hi-vis safety vest
Jumper cables or Emergency power pack
1. Dead Battery
You will need jumper cables & second vehicle OR emergency power pack.
- Turn off ignition & accessories in BOTH vehicles
- Connect RED clamp to positive terminal of good battery AND positive terminal of dead battery
- Connect BLACK clamp to negative of dead battery AND negative terminal of good battery
- Start the good vehicle and let run for at least 5 minutes
- Try to start disabled vehicle.
If using emergency power pack:
- Attach RED clamp to positive terminal of dead battery
- Attach BLACK clamp to negative terminal of dead battery
- Turn on power pack and follow directions regarding wait time
- Attempt to start vehicle
2. Flat Tire
You will need jack, gloves, spare tire, owner’s manual, hi-vis vest, safety triangle/flares and lug wrench
- Turn off vehicle, turn on hazard lights and place safety triangles/flares if needed.
- Remove hubcaps, place jack in recommended location (see owner’s manual) and loosen lug nuts with wrench.
- Lift vehicle with jack until tire is clear of ground.
- Remove lug nuts and then remove tire from vehicle
- Place spare tire in place and replace lug nuts, tightening hand tight
- Lower vehicle until just touching ground but with weight still on jack, now tighten lug nuts with wrench
Lower vehicle completely and check lug nuts for tightness
3. Overheating Engine
You will need antifreeze/coolant, engine oil & gloves
- Immediately pull to safe location and shut off car
- Open hood and let engine cool, while this is happening inspect area for leaks
- Once engine is cooled check engine oil level and coolant level
- Replace fluids as needed.
4. Car Accident
Should you be involved in an accident immediately pull off the highway in a safe location
- Check yourself and any passengers for injury, if necessary contact emergency services
- If local regulations require contact emergency services and report the accident and your location
- Identify any possible witnesses recording name, address and vehicle information is possible
- Trade information with other driver(s) including name, address, insurance carrier, and driver’s license number.
- Jot down as many details as possible as soon as possible
- Contact your insurance company as per policy requirements
These are only a few of the possible mishaps you may face on the road, but by being able to address these you can save time, money and stress during any trip. For more tips on road trip vehicle repairs check out this YouTube video.