We all encounter the occasional breakdown with our vehicles. Most of the time the repairs are simple, while others require help from a professional. In other cases, we can patch things up enough to get to a repair shop. These are four of the most common problems and some ideas on how to get through them.
The automatic shutoff features on modern cars have prevented many dead batteries, but even the best technology can’t help a battery that has reached the end of its useful life. Whatever the cause of your dead battery, the first solution for most people is to get a jump start. A better option is to carry a rechargeable jump starter so that you don’t have to worry about finding another car or being able to reach it. Take the vehicle to a car repair shop as soon as possible to get the battery tested.
This is a big inconvenience. A tire that has blown out or is completely flat should not be used at all. Instead, you should install your spare according to the directions in your owner’s manual. Note that the temporary tire has speed and distance limits. If the tire is low but not totally flat, you may be able to drive a few yards to a gas station to air it up, but it’s likely to go flat again.
Out of Gas
It’s easy to guess wrong about how much further you can drive when your tank gets low. If you’ve sputtered to a stop on the side of the road, your only solution is to add more gas. Make sure you use an approved container (not a milk jug) and a funnel for safety. Once you’ve added more gas, start the car. It may take several seconds to clear the air from the lines and start. Once it’s running, go to a gas station immediately.
Low antifreeze levels can lead to an unexpected and frightening burst of steam from under the hood. If this happens, pull off immediately and shut off the motor. Do not remove the radiator cap. The pressure and heat inside can cause serious burns. Instead, add coolant to the reservoir, or, if the engine has cooled for several hours, directly to the radiator. Get to a car repair shop immediately to diagnose the problem, making sure to watch the temperature as you drive.
Not every roadside breakdown is an easy DIY fix but being prepared for the simple ones can save you a lot of hassle and money.