Here’s how to handle your car breaking down while on holiday
If you’re travelling by car then you’ll know that road tripping adds a bit more stress to your experience too.
You need to ensure your vehicle is capable of handling just about anything that might come your way on the open road.
Travelling long distances by car means that for lengthy periods of time you will be far from any type of assistance should things turn pear-shaped. Of course, problems on the road are not a given. Not everyone who road trips has a negative experience.
In fact, road tripping is considered an excellent way to really get into the holiday spirit and wind down. But the open road is not to be messed with and you should do the necessary to mitigate all possible risks.
You should prepare your car by sending it in for a major service before hitting the road, check your tyres and ensure all safety mechanisms (seatbelts, airbags and tracker) are in place and working properly. This means that no matter what happens, you and your car will be as safe as possible.
The one thing that no one wants to think about is the possibility of a breakdown while trying to get to your holiday destination. What’s more, if you’re travelling during the school holidays, the roads can be very busy which means the danger is increased. And, if you haven’t experienced a breakdown before then you might not even know what to do if it does happen. However, there are some key things to know that’ll assist you if this happens to you this holiday season.
Remain aware of your car
Be aware of how your car feels and operates at all times. You know your vehicle and how it drives, so you’ll know if there’s something amiss. This isn’t some used Polo which you found for sale a few weeks ago. You’re used to your car and you’ve been driving it for years. Also, a car won’t simply die with no warning. You’re likely to feel something “give” or vibrate and if there’s smoke, that’s always a problem, so pull over into the emergency lane or off the road. Even if it ends up being nothing, check your car the minute it starts behaving differently.
Be careful in the emergency lane
When you’re driving on the open road, you and your fellow travellers are all likely moving faster than 100kms per hour. This is fast and if your car breaks down you need to get it off the road as quickly as possible so that you don’t end up in a collision. Once you’re in the emergency lane or have pulled off the road, make sure to put your car into neutral and engage the handbrake. Make sure you put your hazards on and turn your wheels away from the road so it won’t roll into oncoming traffic should your handbrake give way.
Alert other drivers
Once your hazards are on most other drivers will recognise that you’ve pulled off the road with good reason. But for extra precaution make sure you place a reflective triangle approximately five metres from your car as an additional warning and open the bonnet of your car. By putting all these measures in place other drivers will understand what’s happened and steer clear of you.
Try to find a public friendly place for safety
If you feel unsafe in the surroundings in which you’ve broken down then consider making your way to a nearby farm stall, restaurant or mall. You might use your GPS to find your way but if the distance to walk is too far or you feel particularly unsafe then you should lock yourself in your car while waiting for assistance. Make sure you only use your phone to make urgent phone calls as should you have to wait for an extended period of time, you’ll need your phone battery to last. And, if you breakdown at night then keep your engine running and your lights on so that oncoming traffic can see you.