When you are the owner and operator of a vehicle, you have certain obligations to fulfil, like insurance coverage, licensing, plate stickers, and more. Along with these responsibilities, you should also have a plan in place for sudden, unexpected roadside scenarios. Flat tires, broken windshield wipers, overheating engines, and being lock out are just some of the common examples drivers experience on the road.
When circumstances like these occur, it is important to be prepared; not only with the right tools and resources, but also with the right knowledge. Continue reading to review common roadside problems, and suggested solutions for each!
Flat tires are one of the most common roadside dilemmas drivers experience on the road. Run-flat tires are great options for areas where flats are common, as they protect the rim of the wheel while you slowly drive your vehicle to the nearest shop for repair. If you do not have such tire technology, you need to be sure you have a kit handy to change your tire. This can be a tire plug kit for patching a hole, or it can be a jack and spare tire setup. See our blog, “How to Change a Tire Using a Spare,” to learn how to do it yourself.
Overheating engines can happen for a number of reasons. The most common reason an engine overheats a vehicle that is in good condition has to do with lack of coolant. It is important to have the proper water-to-coolant ratio for proper cooling operation. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to learn the proper coolant concentration recommended for your make and model car or truck. Also, keep a bottle of radiator fluid in your trunk so that you can be prepared to tend to an overheated engine. Always be sure to let the engine cool down completely before opening the hood.
Broken Windshield Wiper Blades
If your windshield wiper blades are broken, and you are driving in the middle of a rainstorm, you are in a very unsafe position. Immediately pull over and wait for the rain to pass, or be prepared to change your windshield wipers manually. By keeping an extra set of quality windshield wiper blades in your vehicle, you are well-prepared for this kind of disaster.
Out of Fuel
A vehicle running out of gasoline is a common scenario that virtually all drivers have experienced once in their life. It is not a good idea to keep an extra jug of fuel in your vehicle for roadside emergencies like this, however, it is a good idea to keep an empty fuel jug so that you can walk to the nearest gas station and fill it up.
Locked Out of the Car
Locking your keys in the car is a major inconvenience, especially if your engine is still running since it can cost you precious fuel. If this happens to you, you have a few options. The one you use will largely depend on the resources you have, and personal preference. You can use a long shoe string, or other type of string, you can create a slip knot and use it to manually unlock the door, or you can try the old coat hanger method.
Stuck in a Ditch
For those stuck on the side of the road, you have a few options for escape. If you believe you are in a particularly dangerous position, contact the highway police for added protection. To get yourself out, you can use the rocking method, where you reverse and drive back and forth until your vehicle can gain the momentum needed to spring itself out; or, you can add dry soil around each tire for added traction. You can also jack up the car and add wood boards, floor mats, trunk liner, gravel, sand, or any other material you have that could work as a surface. Keep in mind that this is not recommended if you are on a busy highway or street. It can be very risky and dangerous.