No matter how much thought is put into the safety of your car or truck by the manufacturer, chances are you’re going to be put into a worst-case scenario that they may not have thought of. When this happens, the only thing you’ll have going for you is know-how. Here are 5 automotive emergencies and suggested responses for getting yourself out of a tight spot on the road.
Your Tire Blows Out
When a tire blows out, it can lose most of its traction, sending your car careening across the road. While your instinct may be to immediately take your foot off the accelerator and steer to the side of the road, this has proven to be fairly dangerous. Instead, press the gas pedal for a few seconds while stabilizing the car. Gently lift your foot off the accelerator, and allow the car to coast to the side of the road.
Your Vehicle is Sinking
If you find your vehicle sinking in water, try not to panic. Unbuckle your safety belt followed by those of any children in the vehicle. Roll down your windows. If you have manual rollers, this should be easy enough, but electric windows may become shorted out. If they do, use the metal clip of the seat belt or both of your feet to break the window. Escape through the window or attempt to open the door once the pressure has equalized. Think about investing in a “rescue hammer,” a gadget designed to cut your seatbelt and break the window, and keep it within arm’s reach of the driver’s seat.
Your Serpentine Belt Snaps
Most cars these days run on a single belt that drives all the components of the engine (water pump, fuel pump, etc.). When this belt snaps, it can leave you stranded. However, if you have a pair of panty-hose available, twist them and knot them every few inches, and wrap them around the vital pulleys of your vehicle, you can to limp in for proper service. Another quick fix is to use a hose clamp to secure the broken ends of the belt to achieve the same thing, and in a pinch you can also layer duct-tape thick enough to work. Emergency belt repair kits are available, and it’s a good idea to keep one in your emergency kit, as well as duct tape and hose clamps.
Stuck in Snow or Mud
If you’re caught in a severe storm, try your best to wait it out. Dig out around the tires providing traction. If you have passengers, have them stand on the bumper closest to the drive tires and bounce up and down as you rock the vehicle back and forth being careful not to move too fast. If this doesn’t work use vegetation, tree branches, dirt, gravel, or your floor mats to provide traction. Letting air out of your tires can also help in this respect. Keep a small folding shovel and some rock salt in your emergency kit to help with these situations.
Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere
It happens: you’re stuck without a hope in the world of limping your vehicle in for service, and you have to hoof it out. Keep a backpack with a few items of non-perishable food (pack a can-opener if you use canned food) and at least 2 gallons of water in the car, as well as a wide-brimmed hat, a jacket and a flashlight. This should be enough if you need to walk for more than a day. Do not attempt to walk anywhere at night under any circumstances, unless you are in familiar territory. Power off your cell phone and only turn it on to check for a signal, and as soon as you find one, call for help. Walking to find help should always be your last resort. Chances are if you wait long enough, someone will come along and give you a hand. You shouldn’t be afraid to accept help or rides from strangers, but always trust your gut if things look fishy.
David Nance writes on behalf of http://www.mrclutchnw.com/blog/ where you can find an auto repair shop in Western Washington.