Four steps to stay safe if your car breaks down

Cars don’t last forever. In fact, occasional mechanical problems are inevitable.

April is National Car Care Month, which is an ideal time for a check up. Take your car to a professional – or brush up on the basics of auto mechanics. Some things to check are the oil, brake fluid, windshield washer and coolant levels, tire pressure, belts and hoses. Also, look under the car to check for any leaks.

“If you are ever in an accident or your vehicle breaks down, remember your safety is your priority,” said Allan Robinson, assistant vice president of claims fro Encompass Insurance.

If your car does break down – or you have an accident – the Insurance Information Institute recommends the following precautions:

  1. Never get out of the vehicle to make a repair or examine the damage on a busy highway. Get the vehicle to a safe place before getting out. If you've been involved in an accident, motion the other driver to pull up to a safe spot ahead.
  2. If you can’t drive the vehicle, it may be safer to stay in the vehicle and wait for help or use a cell phone to summon help. Under most circumstances, standing outside the vehicle in the flow of traffic is a bad idea.
  3. Carry flares or triangles to use to mark your location once you get to the side of the road. Marking your vehicle’s location to give other drivers advance warning can be critical. Remember to put on your hazard lights!
  4. In the case of a blowout or a flat tire, move the vehicle to a safer place before attempting a repair – even if it means destroying the wheel getting there. The cost of a tire, rim or wheel is minor compared to endangering your safety.