When a warning light comes on, or your car starts making a noise you’ve never heard before. That means it’s a vehicle emergency, and it’s time to act. What do you think is the first thing to do when this happens? Well first thing’s first, don’t panic, because swerving or acting rashly is the worst thing to do in this situation.  

Remember to stay calm and focus on keeping yourself and others safe. We’ll go over, step by step, the best and safest way to handle this situation.  

First: Signal 

Let other drivers know that you’re experiencing difficulties by putting on your hazards. If you have any additional markers like a reflective triangle or flares to put out on the road, those can help warn other drivers of your position. On the freeway, pulling over is very dangerous, simply because of the speed of traffic that goes by. That makes it extremely important that you make every effort to communicate your situation with hazard lights and additional signals.  

Second: Pull Over 

This step sounds self-explanatory because it should be! If your car is beginning to break down, you need to get off the road as soon as it is safe to do so to assess the situation. If you’re on the freeway, however, this gets tricky. Look for either a shoulder or an outside emergency lane to get yourself out of the way of traffic.  

Third: Stay in Your Car 

Like we’ve said before, the road is a dangerous place, so barring any smoking hoods or fire, you should remain in your car. This is the safest place for you to be and will give you the best chance of survival in case there is a distracted driver who swerves into the shoulder. 

Fourth: Call for Help 

The final step is to call for help. If you don’t know what the car trouble is, and there’s no way for you to figure this out, you need a professional to help you. Whether it’s AAA or a local mom-and-pop tow company will depend on your location. Use your phone to search for the nearest tow company, contact them, and explain the situation.  

Be wary of accepting help from strangers, however, because you don’t know exactly who they are. It is much safer to remain in your car if someone pulls over to help you. Use your discretion on this point, because there are good Samaritans out there, but just make sure you’re careful around them.  

How do I know if I should pull over? 

There are many different ways your car can break down while driving, and depending on the situation, your immediate actions can help you limit further damage to your car and additional safety risks to you. 

If you see a warning light on your dashboard, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull over immediately. Most times, a light that is not accompanied by other noises or problematic symptoms means you can drive to the nearest gas station or auto shop to have it checked out. 

However, there are a few situations that warrant pulling over as soon as possible and calling for help. 

Car Overheating 

An overheating engine is one of the most common reasons your car will start to break down while driving, especially if you have an older vehicle. The first signal will be your temperature gauge on your dashboard getting into the red and the temperature warning light turning on. 

If this happens, immediately flip on your hazards and start looking for a place to pull over. Additionally, you should turn the heat in your vehicle all the way up to help vent the heat coming off the engine. As soon as you’re pulled over and it’s safe to exit your vehicle, turn off the vehicle and open your hood to increase the airflow across your engine.  

Remember: You should NEVER open the coolant cap or pour water on your engine while it is hot. This will result in flash steaming or boiling liquid exploding off your engine and severely burning you. 

Once your engine has had plenty of time to cool down, you can try turning your vehicle on again to see if it will stay cool long enough to get to an auto repair shop. However, driving an overheating vehicle can cause lots of damage to the engine and other components, so it is a better idea to call for a tow to the nearest shop instead. 

Out of Gas 

If you either weren’t paying attention to your fuel gauge or were pushing your fuel to the last drop, you can sometimes find yourself suddenly out of gas while you’re driving. Along with an empty tank light on your dash, your engine will stall, and steering and braking will be more difficult 

In these situations, it is always helpful to have a small gas can in your emergency kit so you can make your way to the nearest gas station to get a little gas. A 1–5-gallon gas can will be plenty for you to get your car started so you can drive to the gas station to fill up the tank.  

However, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where it is unsafe to walk to a gas station yourself. In these cases, stay in your vehicle and call for help either from a parent, friend, or tow company in the area. 

Flat Tire 

Like running out of gas, if you suddenly have a flat tire while driving, you won’t have much of a choice but to pull over. If a tire blows while you’re on the road, you will hear the loud pop, followed by your steering wheel pulling hard in one direction.  

Keeps as much control of the steering wheel as you can while pulling off the road to a safe place. You may need to fight the wheel with both hands depending on your speed and which tire popped, but it is vital that you do not let the car pull you into other lanes or oncoming traffic. 

Once it’s safe to get out of your vehicle, you can check the damage to your tire and if there’s any additional damage to the wheel. Ideally, you’ll have a spare tire and jack kit in your car so you can replace the flat one and get to a repair shop. However, if you’re not comfortable changing the tire yourself, don’t hesitate to call for help. 

Check Engine Light  

Most of the time, a lit-up check engine light doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull over immediately. This light is a general signal letting you know that a number of things could be wrong, from a simple broken sensor to a serious engine miss-fire. 

If your check engine light is accompanied by a noise you’ve never heard coming from your car, shaking, or –worst case scenario – smoke, pull over right away and call for help. Continuing to drive your vehicle when this is going on can seriously damage it and cause many more problems later on. 

Safe and sound 

If you stay vigilant of issues with your vehicle and follow these four simple steps in the event of an emergency, you should be well prepared if your vehicle ever experiences issues while on the road. No one ever hopes for an emergency while driving, but as a responsible driver, it is important to be prepared. Drive safe! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

When a warning light comes on, or your car starts making a noise you’ve never heard before. That means it’s a vehicle emergency, and it’s time to act. What do you think is the first thing to do when this happens? Well first thing’s first, don’t panic, because swerving or acting rashly is the worst thing to do in this situation.  

Remember to stay calm and focus on keeping yourself and others safe. We’ll go over, step by step, the best and safest way to handle this situation.  

First: Signal 

Let other drivers know that you’re experiencing difficulties by putting on your hazards. If you have any additional markers like a reflective triangle or flares to put out on the road, those can help warn other drivers of your position. On the freeway, pulling over is very dangerous, simply because of the speed of traffic that goes by. That makes it extremely important that you make every effort to communicate your situation with hazard lights and additional signals.  

Second: Pull Over 

This step sounds self-explanatory because it should be! If your car is beginning to break down, you need to get off the road as soon as it is safe to do so to assess the situation. If you’re on the freeway, however, this gets tricky. Look for either a shoulder or an outside emergency lane to get yourself out of the way of traffic.  

Third: Stay in Your Car 

Like we’ve said before, the road is a dangerous place, so barring any smoking hoods or fire, you should remain in your car. This is the safest place for you to be and will give you the best chance of survival in case there is a distracted driver who swerves into the shoulder. 

Fourth: Call for Help 

The final step is to call for help. If you don’t know what the car trouble is, and there’s no way for you to figure this out, you need a professional to help you. Whether it’s AAA or a local mom-and-pop tow company will depend on your location. Use your phone to search for the nearest tow company, contact them, and explain the situation.  

Be wary of accepting help from strangers, however, because you don’t know exactly who they are. It is much safer to remain in your car if someone pulls over to help you. Use your discretion on this point, because there are good Samaritans out there, but just make sure you’re careful around them.  

How do I know if I should pull over? 

There are many different ways your car can break down while driving, and depending on the situation, your immediate actions can help you limit further damage to your car and additional safety risks to you. 

If you see a warning light on your dashboard, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull over immediately. Most times, a light that is not accompanied by other noises or problematic symptoms means you can drive to the nearest gas station or auto shop to have it checked out. 

However, there are a few situations that warrant pulling over as soon as possible and calling for help. 

Car Overheating 

An overheating engine is one of the most common reasons your car will start to break down while driving, especially if you have an older vehicle. The first signal will be your temperature gauge on your dashboard getting into the red and the temperature warning light turning on. 

If this happens, immediately flip on your hazards and start looking for a place to pull over. Additionally, you should turn the heat in your vehicle all the way up to help vent the heat coming off the engine. As soon as you’re pulled over and it’s safe to exit your vehicle, turn off the vehicle and open your hood to increase the airflow across your engine.  

Remember: You should NEVER open the coolant cap or pour water on your engine while it is hot. This will result in flash steaming or boiling liquid exploding off your engine and severely burning you. 

Once your engine has had plenty of time to cool down, you can try turning your vehicle on again to see if it will stay cool long enough to get to an auto repair shop. However, driving an overheating vehicle can cause lots of damage to the engine and other components, so it is a better idea to call for a tow to the nearest shop instead. 

Out of Gas 

If you either weren’t paying attention to your fuel gauge or were pushing your fuel to the last drop, you can sometimes find yourself suddenly out of gas while you’re driving. Along with an empty tank light on your dash, your engine will stall, and steering and braking will be more difficult 

In these situations, it is always helpful to have a small gas can in your emergency kit so you can make your way to the nearest gas station to get a little gas. A 1–5-gallon gas can will be plenty for you to get your car started so you can drive to the gas station to fill up the tank.  

However, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where it is unsafe to walk to a gas station yourself. In these cases, stay in your vehicle and call for help either from a parent, friend, or tow company in the area. 

Flat Tire 

Like running out of gas, if you suddenly have a flat tire while driving, you won’t have much of a choice but to pull over. If a tire blows while you’re on the road, you will hear the loud pop, followed by your steering wheel pulling hard in one direction.  

Keeps as much control of the steering wheel as you can while pulling off the road to a safe place. You may need to fight the wheel with both hands depending on your speed and which tire popped, but it is vital that you do not let the car pull you into other lanes or oncoming traffic. 

Once it’s safe to get out of your vehicle, you can check the damage to your tire and if there’s any additional damage to the wheel. Ideally, you’ll have a spare tire and jack kit in your car so you can replace the flat one and get to a repair shop. However, if you’re not comfortable changing the tire yourself, don’t hesitate to call for help. 

Check Engine Light  

Most of the time, a lit-up check engine light doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull over immediately. This light is a general signal letting you know that a number of things could be wrong, from a simple broken sensor to a serious engine miss-fire. 

If your check engine light is accompanied by a noise you’ve never heard coming from your car, shaking, or –worst case scenario – smoke, pull over right away and call for help. Continuing to drive your vehicle when this is going on can seriously damage it and cause many more problems later on. 

Safe and sound 

If you stay vigilant of issues with your vehicle and follow these four simple steps in the event of an emergency, you should be well prepared if your vehicle ever experiences issues while on the road. No one ever hopes for an emergency while driving, but as a responsible driver, it is important to be prepared. Drive safe! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

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