Stuck on the Side of the Road? Here's What You Need to Do to Save Your Road Trip Adventure!

Stuck on the Side of the Road? Here's What You Need to Do to Save Your Road Trip Adventure!

Posted by Jeffrey B on 21st Apr 2023

You’ve got the car packed full of kids, luggage, maybe a dog or two as well when your heart sinks: the engine’s temperature gauge starts to climb as your car overheats and you’re forced to deal with this before it completely derails your entire trip. Fear not! There are ways to prepare for situations like these, from routine maintenance and checkups to full roadside kits to salvage what you have. Hop in for a ride as we look at the steps you should take to get your road trick back on track.

Pull over to a safe location.

Along your drive, pay close attention to road signs and your available detour options. If you’re lucky you still aren’t far from civilization and can pull off the freeway or highway into a nearby parking lot to address your vehicle. More immediately, pull off onto the available shoulder or a turn out to get clear of traffic. Do not stop in the lane you are in or on the left shoulder, as most drivers will expect you to be in the right shoulder. Give yourself as much room as possible to work on your car, both to get out of the driver’s seat and to work on the right side tires, if necessary. Turn on your hazards/emergency lights as soon as you begin to struggle to want other drivers that you are not going to be driving predictably and they can exercise caution around you.

Assess the situation.

Once you’ve pulled over, turn off the engine, take a second to compose yourself, settle everyone down, and tell them to stay put (it’s dangerous to get out). Take a moment to evaluate what might be causing your car troubles. Flat tire? Low coolant? Low oil? Catastrophic failure deep in the engine? In most cases, you will be able to replace your tire with the spare but not much else can be addressed on the side of the road. Do you have a mechanic or car guru friend you can give a quick call? While they won’t be able to fix your car, they can at least give you an idea of what to do next.

Seek assistance.

If it’s not as easy as buying some coolant or oil from the gas station or replacing your tire with a spare, it’s probably time to call for a professional. Contact your roadside assistance if you have it, as they can send a tow truck or mechanic right to you. If you don’t then you might need to use your smartphone to look up nearby tow companies or mechanics to pick you up. Worst case scenario, you might just need to leave your car on the side of the road while one person calls an uber and heads into town to get help.

Stay safe.

While you wait for help to arrive, keep you and your family safe by staying in your car. Nowhere is as safe as the steel box designed to protect its occupants. If you’re not on the side of the road and just in a parking lot, of course walk around and find somewhere comfortable to recoup, otherwise stay in a location that will keep your family protected. If you have multiple phones, make sure the one that has the best service stays unused so you can call for help again if necessary.

Make the most of your time.

There’s going to be a lot of time spent sitting around, waiting for car repairs or just a pick up. Spend that time talking to your kids, have them share a story, take a walk, or do some light shopping if you made it into town.

Keep a positive attitude.

This may be hard and the last thing you feel like doing, but keep spirits up throughout. When you’re roadtripping often enough, a breakdown is bound to happen. It may not be a memory you planned to make, but your kids will remember and laugh for decades to come at how ridiculous the whole thing was.

If your car breaks down during a road trip, don't panic. Make the most of your trip and follow these steps to stay safe on the side of the road. Remember that mishaps happen to everyone, and it's your response to them that will teach your kids that adversity happens, but it will be okay. So take a deep breath, call for help, and let this one roll off your shoulders.

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