You need to be prepared for the worst that can happen while you’re on the road. Anything from a flat tires, dead battery, fender bender or a more serious accident can happen.  You’ll probably need to call for help such as a police or a tow truck. However, Before these things ever happen, a little preparation can go a long way and save you a world of trouble when you’re facing a roadside emergency.

Emergency Kit

There’s nothing worse than needing something and not having it. Your roadside assistance emergency plan should include at the very least an emergency kit.  This may be one of the best preparations you make in the face of a roadside situation. It is not very expensive and can be purchased at pretty much any home or hardware store.  You could build your own. Or just pick one up (I got mine at my local Kanata Canadian Tire store. So glad I have it!)

What to Include

If you’re feeling adventurous and you want to build your own emergency kit make sure it includes date essential items. A first aid kit, Flashlight and batteries, warm blanket, some protein or granola bars, flameless flares, your car owner manual, a pencil and notebook to record information, and a prepaid cell phone with car charger.  You can always add more, but these are considered the basics to be prepared in the event of a roadside emergency.  Help might be on the way, but sometimes help is delayed.  A tow truck could be delayed upwards of over an hour in inclement weather.  If you have lost power having a well stocked emergency kit can make all the difference while you wait for help to arrive.

Understand the Lights on the Dashboard

Every responsible driver needs to understand what the warning lights on the dashboard mean in a potential roadside emergency situation. This could really help you destress your situation and understand what’s going on and even avoid it if possible.

The oil light – If your engine has low oil pressure this light will turn on. Check the oil level and add some more if you have any with you. This is your advance warning to get yourself to a repair shop. Otherwise you may need to call for a tow before you do disastrous damage to your engine.

The brake light — your brakes may not be working properly if this light comes on. Check your brake pedal immediately to see how it feels. If it’s going to the floor to quickly pull over and do not continue driving. You need to call for a tow truck and have yourself safely towed to the nearest service facility. If your pedal feels firm and your brakes are working, and it could be the brake fluid. If it’s low you’re going to need more break fluid. It still stays on after you’ve added more fluid it’s advisable to get your vehicle serviced just to soon as you can.

The airbag light — This light coming on means your airbags may not be working properly if you get into a collision. This needs to be attended to you as soon as possible.

Traction control and stability — this is a warning there’s something wrong. You can still drive the vehicle but you need to be extra careful on the slippery roads and on turns. Make sure to get this service as soon as possible.

Check engine light — if it seems like your engine is working properly in the tens mission is shifting well you can keep driving and get your vehicle checked over by your mechanic. However if it’s flashing you need to pull over at the nearest safe location. Call for a tow truck and get yourself towed to the nearest repair shop immediately. A flashing check engine light can destroy your engine much sooner than you would realize.

Charging system — this is an indicator that there is something seriously wrong with your charging system and you need to get to the nearest mechanic to have this attended to.

Temperature — You need to stop your vehicle and cool down your engine immediately. Do not attempt to open up the radiator or you may suffer a very serious injury and terrible burns. Have your car or truck towed to the nearest mechanics or garage where this can be safely and professionally attended to. Driving it a vehicle when the temperature is too high can cause your repairable engine damage causing thousands upon thousands of dollars to fix.

Do you Know How to Jumpstart a Dead Battery?

It’s OK if you don’t. But it will help to be prepared if you need your battery to be boosted. Where I live in Kanata it gets real cold in the winter and our -40° weather alone can be enough to stop a vehicle dead in a driveway or parking lot and need a boost. So carry booster cables in your vehicle.  If you’ve never booster cables before it is not advisable to test it out and the roadside on your own for the first time. Cramping them in the wrong way or the wrong order can cause expensive electrical damage to your vehicle or even an explosion!  If you don’t know how to boost your vehicle you can always call for a tow truck it’ll be there in a jiffy and will be able to give you the most you need in the safe and professional way. 

How To Get Unstuck

Snow and rain can leave your car stuck with no traction to get out of a rut. Caring a small compact shovel, and some gravel in a bag can help you in a really tough situation like this. Again, if you’re not sure what to do call me for a tow truck is probably the simplest, safest and fastest solution.  A tow truck driver has everything needed in their vehicle in addition to a winch that can pull you if needed.

Check for Your Spare Tire

Tow truck drivers often get called simply to deliver a spare tire! So it’s wise to make sure you are fully prepared in the case of the roadside situation by making sure your spare tire is actually there in the first place. Beyond that, if you find yourself with a flat tire at the side of the road, and you’re not comfortable or confident in how to change it again, I can’t be stressed enough how relieving it is to call for a professional like a tow truck driver to take care of this for you.  What they can do in a matter of minutes but might take you 45 minutes or more to do. When it’s freezing cold, raining or dark, not only is it dangerous at the side of the road it’s just not pleasant at all.

So a little preparation can go a long way. Whether it’s understanding the signals in your dashboard before you headed on a trip or if they turn on while you’re on route. Or being prepared with an emergency kit booster cables or other equipment they can make all the difference in a stressful and unexpected situation. When in doubt, though don’t hesitate to call for help. Your safety is paramount on the road and sometimes it’s just better to sit tight and wait for help to come then to get out of your vehicle and take unnecessary risks.