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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Your Car Breaks Down, Now What?

car breakdown.

Sooner or later, it happens to even the most cautious and maintenance-focused drivers: your car breaks down on the road. Knowing precisely what to do in this circumstance can help ensure that you remain safe — and that your vehicle is back on the road as quickly as possible.

If you sense car trouble and are on the road, attempt to steer your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights and find a safe spot to park your vehicle. Generally, the right shoulder of the road is the best place to pull over. When you park, make sure you apply your emergency brake and turn your wheels to the right. This will prevent your car from rolling backwards.

A call for help is the next step to take. If you have roadside assistance through your insurer, your car manufacturer or another organization, contact them immediately and wait for them to arrive with help. If you don't have roadside assistance, you can call 911 if your vehicle is in a dangerous position. If you're safely parked, dial 411 for directory assistance and find a local tow operator.

If you need to leave your vehicle for any reason, it's important to be aware of your surroundings. Always exit your car from the passenger side (if you were able to pull over to the right), and always make sure the road is clear before exiting.

If your car breaks down in a busy area — or can't move your car entirely out of the flow of traffic — you may wish to use flares or triangles to signal your distress. Just make sure you use your flares at least a good twelve feet behind your vehicle.

Emergency kit reminder

One of the most important items to always have in your vehicle is an emergency kit. It should be located in a place that is easily accessible. In addition to basic items such as flashlights, a spare tire and jumper cables, you might want to add the following:

  • A jack and a lug wrench that you feel comfortable operating
  • A first aid kit and fire extinguisher
  • Batteries
  • Basic tools like a screwdriver
  • Snacks and water
  • Tire chains, blankets and a shovel (for inclement weather).

Car breakdowns are an unavoidable fact of life — yet you can minimize the dangers and headaches they pose by following some smart safety protocols. As with any vehicle you own, be sure to consult with your insurance agent on your coverages and additional benefits such as roadside assistance.

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