Most people generally think of their car as being pretty reliable. Even cars with nagging issues tend to get you from one place to the next. However, while it is a rare occurrence, cars do break down. One of the worst scenarios is when your car breaks down on a freeway or highway. With all that traffic around you and a car that has stopped working, it is very easy to panic or overreact to the situation. The most important thing to remember if your car breaks down on the freeway or the highway is to not panic. If you panic, you may end up causing an accident or other issue on the road and make everything worse for many other drivers. Take a breath and follow these steps for what to do when your car breaks down.

1. Turn on the Hazard Lights

If your car fails you, the first thing you need to do is alert other drivers that there is a problem. Immediately put your hazard lights on so people know to give you some space and stay clear. Once the lights are on, see if you can safely get to the shoulder of the road. If you can, that is fantastic and you can now breathe a little easier. However, if there is no way you can go over to the shoulder, put your hazard lights on and gently slow until your car stops.

2. Stay in the Car

This is especially true if you are on the highway or freeway. Stay in the car, as it is your safest option and will keep everyone from injuring themselves. If it is dark outside, turn your dome lights on to make your car more visible. Do not try to dodge through oncoming traffic in an effort to get to the side of the road. While you may feel helpless sitting in a broken vehicle, it is much better than being struck by an oncoming car that didn’t see you trying to run across the freeway.

3. Call a Tow Service

If you have a smartphone, you can look up the number of the nearest towing service and give them a call to help you. If you do not have a smartphone, it is best to keep a few numbers in your glove box in case you require the services of a towing company. You may also have AAA, in which case you can call them at 800-AAA-HELP and have them handle the situation for you. Once the tow service arrives, have them tow your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop so you can determine what is wrong with it.

Bonus Tips

  • If your car’s electrical system has failed for any reason and you cannot get your hazard lights to work, use a brightly colored flag or piece of paper to alert other drivers that you are broken down. Use your window to pinch the flag in place.
  • It is a good idea to have a trusted mechanic’s number on hand, or at least an address. You do not want the tow company to take your car to a mechanic that is untrustworthy or otherwise ill-prepared. If you are in an unfamiliar town, you should look up reputable auto repair shops in the area before you get your car towed.
  • Another tip for any road trip is to carry a few snacks in the vehicle at all times. You may be broken down for a while, depending on the situation, so having a little food and drink available can go a long way to helping you think clearly and avoid panicking.

Breaking down is an unfortunate occurrence that happens to thousands of people a day. Making sure you are prepared with phone numbers and a game plan can help you navigate this stressful situation. If you’re in the Portland area and in need of repair work done on your vehicle, contact one of our 8 locations today to speak with a representative.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts is the Director of Operations at Mackin’s Auto Body, where he has been making an impact since 2018. With a career in collision repair that started in 1999, Chris brings a wealth of experience and dedication to his role. Before stepping into his current position, he served as the Assistant Operations Manager at Mackin’s Auto Body from 2013 to 2017. Chris holds a BA from Northwest Nazarene University. When he’s not ensuring everything runs smoothly at Mackin’s, you can find him skiing down snowy slopes, wake surfing on sunny days, or cheering on his daughter at her soccer games.