My story starts on a country road where I was driving one gloomy Thursday afternoon. I had finished some errands in a town next to mine and was on the way back home when I heard a suspicious noise coming from under the hood of my car. Suddenly, I started slowing down and the vehicle didn’t react to me pressing the gas pedal.
Pulling over on the side of the road was the only thing to do. I was facing a car breakdown for the first time in my life. The possibility of this happening never even crossed my mind so naturally I was beyond surprised and shocked. Luckily my hometown was nearby so I called up a friend who towed me to the nearest mechanic shop.
It turned out that my engine was thrashed, and with a hefty amount of money paid, the mechanic got it running again. He warned and advised me about a few things considering my car maintenance (I admit, I was irresponsible), and told me I should take better care. This misfortune also made me think about different scenarios, for example, what if I had been on a road trip in the middle of nowhere when this happened? Or even worse, have a baby in the car?
This situation would produce a whole different set of problems and potential dangers. Ultimately this event was a learning experience, and it made more cautious and mindful when it comes to using cars. We should all be more aware of this; we don’t need to get stranded to learn to be more careful, right?
Here are some things I realized after my car broke down:
1. Never neglect car oil changes
This was one of my major errors, mostly due to lack of knowledge. So please learn from my mistake and change your oil regularly, according to your car manufacturer’s recommendations. Why is this important? Well, over time the oil gets dirty and runs through the engine leaving all sorts of nasty bits and sludge everywhere.
If this keeps going on for some time, the normal functioning of the engine will be compromised by the dirt which has built up, and the oil will not be able to reach all the necessary spots. This will eventually lead to a breakdown. You also need to know which type of oil is best for your vehicle.
Lately, many manufacturers and auto professionals have been recommending synthetic oil, because of its superior qualities compared to regular ones. It keeps the engine running smoothly and prolongs its lifespan, but you should know that it also costs a bit more. Still, purchasing the best synthetic oil will benefit you so much in the long term, that it justifies the cost.
2. Perform regular maintenance of the car
Changing the oil might be the most significant thing to do for the engine, but your car is composed of many more components which also need to be looked after. For example, checking the battery, getting the tires aligned and rotated, replacing the spark plugs, etc. because, malfunctioning of a single part could prevent your vehicle from working.
The good news here is that many of these checks you can do by yourself with just a bit of education and effort, so getting familiar with the automobile’s functions is quite useful. Unless you are a mechanic, it is also vital to take your vehicle to a general service from time to time.
The frequency of these services is usually determined by a time period or a certain mileage (e.g. every two years or every 20,000 miles), so whichever it is, be sure to respect it.
Since my misfortunate event occurred unexpectedly, my car was a complete mess when leaving to the mechanics’ garage. I admit it, I haven’t paid attention to car cleaning regarding maintenance, so I was pretty surprised when I saw my car got cleaned perfectly.
Why am I telling this? Some places charge this service additionally and don’t even inform you. To prevent this, get a good car vacuum cleaner, and clean your car from time to time.
3. Have means of communication available at all times
If it wasn’t for my cell phone I could have been stranded at the roadside for hours. Of course, these days it is common sense to bring your mobile everywhere you go, which is a good thing in this case, but that doesn’t leave you safe.
An empty battery can happen to anyone so it would be smart to bring a portable battery charger or a fully charged spare phone battery which you can simply keep in the glove box of the car.
Now, if you are venturing out into the wilderness be aware that there might not be mobile service available. In this case make sure to bring a satellite phone with you, because it can be a life saver since there will not be many strangers to ask for help in the middle of nowhere.
4. Bring food and water everywhere you go
It is common to bring snacks and sandwiches if you are going on a field trip or a long drive, but I would suggest having some sort of sustenance in your car available in at all times. In the case of a breakdown who knows how long you might have to wait for help, so it’s better to be safe than sorry, hungry or thirsty.
When it comes to drinks, the obvious choice is regular water. You can buy it in bottles, place them under the seat, and it will be there any time you need it. Another option is to get a larger container and keep it in the trunk. As far as food is concerned, going for canned products might be recommendable because they have a long shelf life and are easy to store.
As far as food is concerned, going for canned products might be recommendable because they have a long shelf life and are easy to store.
5. Keep a cool head
Panic, anger and worry will never bring you any good in a situation like this. Whether you’re vehicle stops in the middle of the city or middle of the forest, the procedure you need to follow is pretty much the same. First, take a breather and accept the situation; you are where you are. Next, think of the first logical thing to do.
Depending on your current location this step might vary, but it usually involves getting some help. Last but not least, have faith that everything is going to work out just fine. Sure some money and time might be sacrificed, but try to see the bright side, and LEARN from this experience. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Whether we liked it or not, mishaps occur and some things in life are just out of our control. It is your duty to be prepared for any scenario, and your chances of solving the problem faster and more easily will be increased. Try to view negative situations as a challenge and an opportunity to grow wiser, because only difficulties will give you the chance to do that. At the end of the day, at least you will have a nice story to share.
Featured photo credit: JD Weiher via unsplash.com