Common Roadside Emergencies to be Prepared For
Common Roadside Emergencies to Be Prepared For
Nobody expects an emergency, but everyone should be prepared for some of the most common roadside emergencies. That way if your car ever sputters to a stop or if your tire blows out on the highway, you know what to do and how to handle a roadside emergency. Read on to learn more about emergency kits, how to jump-start a car, how to change a tire, how to get unstuck, and other ways to prepare for a roadside emergency.
Prepare With an Emergency Kit
To be prepared for a roadside emergency, you will need to have an emergency kit in your car. Here are some of the essential items for your kit:
- First aid kit
- Lug wrench
- Jumper cables
- Engine oil
- Spare tire
- Tire jack
- Owner’s manual
- Food and water
Here are some other ideas that would also be beneficial for your emergency kit:
- Paper and mechanical pencil
- A brick
- Tire pressure gauge
- LED flare
- Car charger for your phone
Store the emergency kit somewhere in the vehicle that is easily accessible in an emergency, like the trunk. The kit will be essential to be able to perform some of the emergency techniques discussed later.
How to Jump-Start a Car
One very common emergency is a dead car battery. Jump-starting a car is a necessary skill, but it can be dangerous. It is best to have someone who has done it before walk you through these steps before attempting it in an emergency situation.
- Park the vehicle with the good battery nearby the vehicle with the dead battery. Do not let the vehicles touch.
- Ensure that both vehicles are off. Each auto can be in park or neutral, and both should have the parking brake on.
- Connect the positive jumper cable (usually it’s red) to the positive remote terminal of the car with the dead battery.
- Connect the positive jumper cable to the positive remote terminal of the car with the good battery.
- Connect the negative jumper cable (usually it’s black) to the negative remote terminal of the car with the good battery.
- Connect the negative jumper cable to any unpainted metal under the hood of the car with the dead battery. Make sure that you choose a spot that’s at least 18 inches away from the dead battery. Never attach the negative cable to the negative terminal in the car being jumped.
- Start the car with the good battery. Let it run at idling speed for about 5 minutes.
- Try starting the car with the dead battery. If it doesn’t start, try letting it charge for a few minutes more.
- If it does start, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order that they were put on. Remove the negative cable from the unpainted metal, the negative from the good battery, the positive from the good battery, and the positive from the dead battery.
- Remember to let the jump-started car run for 30 minutes. You can let it idle or drive it for 30 minutes to help recharge the battery.
If the car still won’t start after going through these steps, call a tow truck and have your car looked at in the shop. And if you are unsure of how to jump-start a car and you are stuck somewhere, don’t be afraid to call roadside assistance.
How to Change a Tire
Changing a tire is one of the most common forms of emergency car repair, and in some situations, it can require roadside assistance. If you have a flat tire on the highway or a narrow road and the flat is on the driver’s side, call roadside assistance. The chances of being struck by an oncoming vehicle are too high to risk trying to change the tire. If you’re on the highway and there is a nearby exit, it can often be the best choice to drive off the highway, but be warned that you will destroy the tire and could potentially damage the wheel. Still, safety should be the priority, and driving farther is safer than changing a tire on the shoulder of a busy highway.
Here are the steps on how to change a tire.
- Make sure the car isn’t moving and that it’s on a level street without a lot of bumps. You might want to put a brick behind the opposite tire to prevent the car from rolling. Ensure that the parking brake is on.
- Remove the hubcap. You’ll be able to see the lug nuts. Use a lug wrench to loosen the lugs slightly, but make sure the nuts are still attached to the tire.
- Position the jack. Many cars have a mark where a jack should go, but be sure to check the owner’s manual for the specific instructions for your car. Raise the car with the jack.
- Remove the lug nuts and pull the flat tire off.
- Replace the flat tire with the spare.
- Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Start at the top and move diagonally to the lower lug then back toward the top, like drawing a star. If there aren’t five lugs, tighten opposing lug nuts.
- Lower the car with the jack, and tighten the lug nuts one more time to make sure they’re secure.
What to Do If You Run Out of Gas
- Pull over immediately. If you have already run out of gas completely and can’t pull over, turn on your hazards and shift the car into neutral. Once the road is clear and safe, push the car to the side. Your hazards will signal that you need help.
- Determine your location. A smartphone, nearby signs, or even walking a short distance to a landmark are all ways to determine where you are.
- Find gas. If you are near a gas station, walk to the station and buy some gas. If you’re unable to get yourself gas, call roadside assistance.
That’s all there is to handle this emergency. Running out of gas is a common emergency, and it can be prevented. Refuel your car when it is down to ¼ of a tank to prevent an emergency and to get better gas mileage.
How to Get Unstuck
Whether it’s in snow, sand, or mud, you might find your vehicle stuck. There a couple of different approaches to getting unstuck, and here are a couple of methods to help you have options in an emergency.
- Shift into “1” or “low.” Do not use reverse and drive because that can cause transmission damage.
- Press the gas to move forward a little bit, never exceeding 15 mph on the speedometer. Release the gas and let the car roll backward a little.
- Continue this until you build enough momentum to get out.
The Traction Method
- One of the biggest problems with a stuck car is a lack of traction. To fix this, use something to create traction. Small rocks, kitty litter, and—in an emergency—a car math can all be placed on the ground in front of your vehicle and under the front tires.
- Drive forward on the traction you’ve created until you reach solid ground.
The Cleared Path Method
- Sometimes the easiest way to get unstuck is to clear whatever is causing the trouble. Store a shovel in your car to move snow or slush away from the wheels of your car.
- Drive forward if you’re able.
- Otherwise, push the vehicle (you’ll probably need help to do this) until you clear the spot that you were stuck in. Make sure the car is in drive if you’re pushing forward and reverse if you’re pushing backward.
Sometimes your car is stuck, and there’s no good way to get it unstuck, or the only options to get it unstuck could damage your car. It is often a good idea to call roadside assistance or a tow truck to get unstuck and prevent any expensive damage.
What to Do After an Accident
An accident can happen to anyone and is a common roadside emergency. Here are the steps for what to do after an accident.
- Check if anybody is injured. If somebody is injured, call 911 immediately.
- Stay at the scene of the accident. Driving away from even a minor accident is illegal. If there are signs of a fire, move to safety but stay as close to the scene of the accident as possible.
- Determine your location using road signs or a smartphone. The police and your auto insurance provider will need to know the location.
- Call the police. Even if it isn’t a major accident, you might need to call the police to file a claim with your insurance company. The police may not respond to the accident if it’s minor, but they will make a record of it.
- Take photographs and write down the details of the accident. Photos and written records of the damage to both cars, skid marks, and even weather conditions will be useful when filing an insurance claim. Photograph any visible injuries as well. If it’s dark, make sure you are using a flashlight to find damage. To warn other drivers that there is an accident, protect the area with road flares from your emergency kit.
- Typically the police will gather the information for all those involved, but if the police don’t respond to the accident, you should make sure you gather information. Write down the name, phone number, address, and insurance information for everybody involved. If there are witnesses, gather their names and information as well.
- If your vehicle is too damaged to drive, call a tow truck and make arrangements to get home.
- Report the accident to your insurance provider. Even if you aren’t filing a claim, most policies require you to report an accident. If you don’t have insurance or would like to find a cheaper insurance provider, Cheap Car Insurance provides free car insurance quotes to help you find the cheapest options.
- Seek medical attention unless you are absolutely certain you’re uninjured. Many accident-related injuries aren’t noticeable until a day or two after the accident, so it is beneficial to see your doctor.
- Keep a record of all of the accident-related documents. This will include the information from the scene of the accident, a copy of the police report, your claim information, and the receipts from all repairs and medical expenses.
The Bottom Line for a Roadside Emergency
Roadside emergencies are scary and can happen to anyone. Luckily, with preparation, you can be ready for 5 of the most common emergencies. Remember to stay calm and make sure you get the appropriate help if you need it.