Whether you have been driving for a week, a year or ten years, you likely know the basics of handling different types of situations. You know when to speed up, when to slow down, and when to notice warning signs coming from your vehicle so you can get in the right lane fast enough. However, there are some emergencies that tend to happen less often, so you might not know how to handle them. Here are some situations you may encounter one day, and how to safely handle them to avoid an accident.
Flat or Blown Tire
When you have a flat or blown tire, the instinct is often to either speed up or slam on the brakes, neither of which you should be doing. You want to focus on getting to a safe place on the side of the road, slowing down your vehicle, and getting control of your vehicle all at the same time. If you are on a residential road or the right lane of a highway, you’re in luck. If you are on the highway in the middle or left lane, throw on your hazard lights and start making your way over to the shoulder. Only speed up if necessary to get around cars.
To slow down your car after a tire blowout, you want to remove your foot from the gas pedal to slow down but not push too hard on the brake pedal until you have better control over your car. Otherwise, your car might spin and put you and other people at risk. Keep slowing down the vehicle and moving over to the shoulder of the road while driving straight and never trying to turn the vehicle.
This is one of those emergencies that people assume is not a big deal and will continue driving to their destination. If your vehicle’s temperature gauge is above the halfway point and starting to overheat, practice caution. Another sign of overheating is if smoke is coming out from under the hood at the same time as the gauge moving up. Do not try to race home and hope you make it. You need to get to a mechanic as soon as you can, but driving there with an overheating vehicle could make the matter worse. Instead, try to find a safe place to pull over and call for a tow truck. If you know it is overheating due to lack of water, you can add water to cool the vehicle down temporarily. However, be very careful, and do not add water to the radiator when the car is hot.
If the overheating leads to an engine fire, park the car on the side of the road, turn off the engine, and get as far from the car as you can while you call for help.
Loss of Brakes
There are few things scarier than driving down the road and realizing your brakes have stopped working. If this happens, start by pumping the brake pedal as fast as you can. While the brakes aren’t working, this motion helps to create brake pressure, which can still help to slow down the car. After pumping the brakes, shift your vehicle into a lower gear and begin looking for a safe place to stop or pull the car over. If you have anti-lock brakes, stepping on the brake pedal might be enough to trigger the ALB and stop your car.
These car problems can be scary, but you can handle them if you remember the tips above. Then, make sure you have a reliable mechanic you can work with to get your car back into working condition if possible.