| Kidney Cars

Most Common Roadside Emergencies and How To Prepare

July 24, 2019, 4:05pm EDT

Most Common Roadside Emergencies and How To Be Prepared - Kidney Cars

You are all set for your out-of-town visit or road trip. While you may have been getting ready for weeks, you can only be so ready for a dead battery, flat tire or a smoking engine. These obstacles can be very disheartening to your plans. Having to search for an honest mechanic away from home is never part of anyone’s plans.

But, do you have to?  

In most cases we should all consult a trusted and expert mechanic. But in a pinch, here are some basic steps to be prepared for the most common car emergencies.

Flat Tire

This is likely the most common issue faced by drivers. It might be due to a leaking valve, an item the tire ran over, or a sudden blowout on the road. The first thing to do is stay calm.  

Items to have in your car:

  • Jack
  • Spare tire
  • Lug wrench
  • Brick or tire stop
  • Gloves & safety vest (optional) 

What to do:

1. Park your vehicle in a secure spot. Turn the engine off and enable the emergency brake. Place the brick or tire stop behind the good tire at the other end of the car so it doesn’t roll.

2. If there is a hubcap, remove it. You should see the lug nuts. Use your lug wrench to loosen the nuts a bit but keep the nuts still on your tire. It’s easier to loosen the nuts before you jack up your car.

3. Situate the jack under the car body in the recommended lifting area where there is no risk of it falling. Use the jack to lift your vehicle so that the wheel clears the ground. Then remove the nuts, leaving the top nut until last.

4. Have your new or spare tire ready. Remove the final nut from the flat tire and ease it off. Put the spare tire on your vehicle and secure with the lug nuts by tightening on alternating sides like a star pattern.

5. Then release the jack and lower your vehicle to the ground. After the new tire is on the ground, give the lug nuts another tightening with the wrench.  

You can also read our blog post on changing a flat tire. 


Dead Battery

You stop for a lunch break and when you come back after an hour, the car’s battery is drained. With some jumper cables and another running car, you can get back on the road in no time.  Check out our blog post here on how to jump start a car. 


Overheated Engine

While you can’t always tell that your engine is getting super-hot, you can definitely see it when smokes starts flooding out from under the hood. If you are out of town, this can be a very nerve-wracking situation. Here are some steps to take: 

Items to have in your car:

  • Antifreeze & coolant
  • Engine oil
  • Gloves 

What to do:

1. Turn off the car right away and open the hood.

2. Before you check anything, allow the engine to cool down.

3. Check the oil level using the dipstick. The level should reach the “full” notch. If it's low, refill as needed.

4. Check the level of coolant in the reservoir next to the radiator. Top off as needed.

5. If the coolant was low, it could mean that there is a leak. Look underneath and around for any noticeable drippings.

6. If you do find a leak, you will need to take your car to an experienced mechanic for repairs.


Running Out of Gas

You clearly remember having a full tank when you left, but now your vehicle is sputtering and chugging along. It’s not important how you ran out of fuel, but it is important to know what to do if that does happen. 

Items to have in your car:

  • Spare gas can
  • GPS
  • Smartphone 

What to do:

1. Pull over and park immediately. If your car has already stopped and there’s not enough fuel to get off the road, put it in neutral and carefully push it to the roadside. Signal to other drivers by turning on your hazard lights.

2. Use your GPS, smartphone or map to determine your location. You might have to exit the car to take a better look at your surroundings.

3. Find fuel. Either walk to the closest gas station or find a motorist who is willing to drive you.

4. If all else fails, contact a towing company or roadside assistance. 


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