What to Do When Your Car Stalls on the Freeway

Even though you may take very good care of your vehicle, you can still experience a roadside breakdown that can leave you stranded. When this does occur, it’s important to know how to respond to the situation. If your car or truck stalls, you’ll want to get the help you need to get back on the road. You’ll also want to make sure your passengers and yourself remain as safe as possible.

Pull Off the Road

When your vehicle stalls, it’s important to get it out of the way of traffic as quickly as possible. If you can’t get the vehicle to start or to coast, you may have to push it as you steer towards the shoulder of the road. Throughout this process, your hazard lights should be flashing and your headlights should be turned on. When driving on a highway that has a narrow shoulder, you may have to push the vehicle onto the grass or a gravel surface. Doing so will ensure you won’t be an obstacle to oncoming traffic, and it will reduce the risks of getting hit by a fast-traveling vehicle.

Make Your Vehicle More Visible

Your next step will be to do what you can to ensure the other drivers on the road can see that your vehicle has broken down. This should include keeping your headlights and hazard blinkers turned on. You should also pop the vehicle’s hood and raise it until it’s fully extended. If you have road flares, set them up around the vehicle to help travelers see you ahead of time. If you have a white or brightly colored cloth, tie it to the antenna of your car or truck. If your vehicle doesn’t have an external antenna, you can tie the cloth to the door handle facing the road.

Call For Help

Once you have made your vehicle as visible to others as possible, you’re ready to call for help. You should already have the number for a roadside service company stored in your phone’s list of contacts. If not, or if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, you can use your phone’s web browser to search for a business that will help in towing your car. Before you make the call, be sure you know something about the area in which you have broken down. At the very least, look for the nearest intersecting roads. If there aren’t intersecting roads, look for a mile marker or another distinguishing landmark. This will help a tow truck driver find you more easily.

Keep Your Passengers Safe

If you have taken the time to move your vehicle to the side of the road and have made it more visible, you and your passengers should be safe inside your vehicle. However, if you feel unsafe sitting in the vehicle, you should instruct everyone to exit by the passenger side to avoid stepping out into the way of traffic. Once everyone has exited, make sure everyone stays on the side of the vehicle that’s farthest from the road. If another vehicle does hit your car or truck, everyone will be safer if they’re standing on the far side of the vehicle.

Don’t Abandon Your Vehicle

If you don’t have a working phone or someone was injured, you may decide to walk to the nearest home or business for help. In that case, be sure to leave a note with your vehicle. The note should contain your name, the day’s date, and the time you started walking. It should also include the direction in which you plan to walk. When help does arrive, this will ensure the tow truck driver or police officer can easily find you. It may also help to write down the reason you left your vehicle, such as jotting down the type of mechanical problem you experienced.

You can be better prepared for problems on the road by keeping your car or truck stocked with a few necessities. You should always keep a small set of tools, jumper cables, and flashlights in your trunk. It may also be helpful to keep a well-stocked first aid kit with your other supplies. This will help you ensure you have the equipment you need to stay safe and fix any minor issues you experience on the highway.