What to do when your car breaks down

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Even the most diligent car owners and drivers are at risk of wrecks or breakdowns. Here’s some advice about mechanical issues that shouldn’t be ignored, and about what drivers should do after deciding to pull over.

Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart Magazine warns that when a steering wheel begins to vibrate or pull in one direction, the vehicle could have a flat tire. If that happens don’t slam on the brakes, coast to the roadside while steering gently away from traffic.

Rhythmic thumping could be a sign a tire is about to blow.

Other symptoms that scream “pull over” according to ShopSmart, steam or dark smoke escaping from under the hood, the low oil light and the brake light display coming.

That brake light could just mean the parking break is on, but it could also mean your car is losing brake fluid, which is why you should pull over and check.

After a breakdown and a car is directed out of traffic, then what?

ShopSmart advises the safest place for a motorist to be is inside the vehicle with their seat belt on, unless the car is in a particularly dangerous location or really close to other passing vehicles.

Do make the vehicle visible, raise the hood, and hang a piece of fabric out the driver’s side window.

Don’t flag down other vehicles. If someone stops offering help, ShopSmart says drivers should stay in their vehicles with the doors locked and ask the other driver to go get help.

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