It is great to have a good car, but then you should be prepared and equipped to handle some emergencies when using it. Roadside emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere and it does not matter whether your car is new or old. It is, therefore, crucial to know how you can handle emergencies as and when they arise. The first and foremost step in getting prepared to handle roadside emergencies is equipping you with an emergency kit.
Typically, your car emergency kit should consist of items such as spare tyre, jack, tyre pressure gauge, gloves, hazard and breakdown warning light, jump leads, socket wrench, engine oil, first aid kit, brake fluid, antifreeze and/or coolant, and heavy-duty torch or LED solar emergency light. Other things you want to keep include owner’s manual of your car, LED flameless flare to warn other drivers, and a spiral notebook and a mechanical pencil to write down accident information, phone numbers, police report numbers, and other information.
Now that the emergency kit is ready, let us see how best we can handle some of the common roadside emergencies:
1. Dead Battery
If your car battery becomes dead for any reason, you can take the help of a vehicle that is passing by and use the jump leads in your emergency kit to jump start your car. This is how you can do it:
The ignition and all of the electrical accessories of both the vehicles should be turned off first.
Now, connect the jumper clamp marked “+” or coloured red to the positive terminal of the other car, the one with the good battery. Connect the clamp on the other end of the jump lead to the positive terminal of your car’s battery which is dead. Connect the second jump lead (coloured blue or black) to the negative terminal of the other car’s battery and the other clamp at the other end of this jump lead to an unpainted metal surface of your car which is at least 18 inches away from the battery.
Start the other vehicle and keep its engine running for 5 to 10 minutes so that your car’s battery gets charged up. Now, try to start your car’s engine, keeping the cables in place. If your car doesn’t start, continue to charge your battery and try after some. You should be able to get your’s started without much of a problem. After starting your car, do not shut off the engine. It takes at least 15 minutes to get your car’s battery recharged.
2. Stuck in Mud/Slush
If you get stuck in mud or slush, keep the wheels straight and see to it that the tyres are not spinning. Shift to first gear or “low” gear in the case of automatic cars. Press the accelerator, but see to it that the speed is not more than 15 mph or 24 kmph. The may move forward a bit. Release the accelerator and allow your car to roll backward. Immediately press the accelerator once again. Repeat this procedure and build sufficient momentum to propel your car out of the slush.
If this does not work, there is no need to panic. You can make use of tyre traction mat or emergency grip pads to get unstuck. You will get better traction when you place these pads below the tyres of your car. Another option you can consider is collecting some stones packing them below the wheels of your car to provide traction or grip.
3. Flat Tyre
You cannot go too far if you happen to get a flat tyre. Engage the handbrake and turn on the hazard lights. Remove the wheel trim. Using the jack raise the wheel off the ground. Fit the spare tyre in your boot. Do not over-tighten the wheel nuts. If you happen to have a flat tyre on a motorway, call for roadside assistance.
Actually, it makes sense to install a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to your car and add an automatic tyre inflator to your emergency kit.
The TPMS comes with four wheel-mounted transmitters which continuously measure and transmit the correct pressure in all the tires and give puncture alerts instantaneously. This contributes to improving fuel efficiency and tyre life and prevents you from getting stranded at night, in rain, etc.
The digital automatic car tyre inflator comes in handy you happen to have a flat tyre. If you do not have the convenience change the punctured tyre, you can just inflate the tyre using the computer and continue to drive for 50 to 60 kilometres before finding tyre repair shop. It can also be used for maintaining the air pressure in your car tyres on a regular basis. To operate the car tyre inflator, you just have to connect it to your car’s cigarette lighter power plug socket.
4. Engine Getting Overheated
If your car’s engine is getting overheated, turn off the engine immediately. Open the bonnet and allow the engine to cool down. Check engine oil and coolant levels. Top up if required. If the problem persists, there might be a leak somewhere and you may have to call a mechanic or get the car towed to a workshop.
5. Warning Lights
The oil light remains on if the engine oil pressure is below the set limit. You can check the oil level and top up as required. Similarly, the brake light remains on if the brake fluid level in the reservoir is low. Check the level in the reservoir and top up as required. Temperature ‘high’ light goes on either because of low engine oil or coolant level. You can check both the engine oil level using the dipstick and the coolant level in the reservoir. However, you should check the oil and coolant levels only after pulling the car to a side and putting off the engine, and ensuring that the engine has cooled down. These are some of the simple things that you can do by yourself, even if you do not have any technical expertise.
In the case of certain other warning lights, you need to exercise caution and seek technical support as soon as you can. They include the airbag, ABS, traction and stability control, ‘check engine’, and charging system warning lights. You may be able to continue driving your car carefully if the airbag, ABS, and traction and stability warning lights are on. However, in the event of ‘check engine’ and charging system warning lights remaining on, it is better you seek the help of a mechanic at the earliest.
If you are involved in an accident with another car or a bike, note down the relevant information about the third party including vehicle registration number, driver’s license number, insurance information, and loan information, if any. Detain the other vehicle and inform the police (call 100). Check for injuries and if anyone is seriously injured call 108 or 112. Note down your location and information related to the accident. Locate witnesses, if any, and get their personal details and their account of the accident. Do not admit to any fault, if that is not on your side.
Finally, take a print out of this post and keep it handy. You don’t have to panic and call for roadside assistance as soon as you meet with an emergency. If you are well equipped with an emergency kit and some of the other tools explained above, you will be able to manage these common emergencies on your own.