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What to Do After Breaking Down in the Middle of Nowhere

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Traveling can be both an adventure and stressful. Traversing off the beaten path and driving down a road you’re not sure anyone has ever driven is a great way to stumble upon an eerie ghost town, or like a diner or something.

Luckily, gone are the days of trying to decipher maps while driving.

Thanks to the invention of the GPS, navigating uncharted territory isn’t as stressful as it once was, although it is night to have a map to fall back on just in case.

A man fixing a car
Photo by Jairph on Unsplash

A very real possibility while driving is having your car breakdown on you. Usually, if you are amongst some semblance of civilization you can pull off to the side or a parking lot and get help relatively quickly. Maybe even a good Samaritan will come by and help with something like a flat or maybe pushing your vehicle somewhere safe. 

This aspect of social well-being is sadly lost when there is no hint of developed land for miles around. It might be tempting to take this automotive betrayal as a sign from a greater power that you are meant to reject society and live the rest of your life amongst the nature surrounding you. But that would be really silly.

Just stay calm and use this advice to carry out a plan with a cool head. It could take a while but depending on who you are, getting not stuck in the middle of nowhere is the best solution to being stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Hindsight

Hindsight can be especially painful right before you fall asleep. All your blunders laid out before you and all you can do is cringe. If your car made a funny noise or acted weird before you knowingly went on this trip, in hindsight, you should have gotten it checked out.

Besides obvious things like that, taking loving care of your car through routine oil changes and even having your tires rotated before a big trip could prevent potential breakdowns on the road. Keeping an eye on your gas tank and making sure it stays more than half full through your trip will ensure that you will always have a comfortable amount of gas to get around.

If you have not been taking care of your car, it is good to look back in hindsight to see what you could have done to prevent breaking down. Let this hindsight serve as a learning tool and have the foresight to prevent potential future breakdown.

Breaking Down

If your car starts to breakdown while you’re at the wheel, don’t panic and try to be the smooth operator that you are. Try to get the car on the shoulder of the road and turn on your emergency lights. The Texas Department of Health and Safety even recommends leaving your hood open. It could be important to try and catch the attention of a potential good Samaritan, if there happens to be one driving through the same road.

If you are able to get help from an auto service, try to find possible significant landmarks that can help pinpoint your position clearer. If you can reach the police let them know where you are and try to make their job finding you easier.

At this point you play the waiting game. You should not leave your vehicle as there are a number of factors that can put you in a worse situation. You could suffer from heat stroke and exhaustion in hot, barren areas. If you find yourself in a colder biome, snowfall can complicate getting to wherever you intended and could make getting back to your vehicle impossible.

However, if you know for sure that you can make it to a gas station or other service area that is not too far off, then you can start to consider making the walk. If you decide to make the trek, write all the information you can somewhere that people can see from the windshield.  Write the names of everyone that was inside the vehicle and where you are trying to get to.

Hopefully help finds you in some way and you’re able to get out of this potentially scary situation. Staying calm and making smart decisions with a cool head could get you out of nowhere more quickly than if you had panicked.

After Breaking Down

Once help reaches you and you can have your vehicle towed, get it to an auto shop first thing. Have a mechanic look over your vehicle and diagnose what is wrong with it. 

Mild or slight damage could mean an easy fix that can get you back on the road in no time. However if there is something more serious going on under the hood then you might want to cancel your travel plans. It could take days or even weeks to get parts for your car and the expense might not be worth it for you.

The car can even be damaged to the point that it would cost more to repair then its current market value, meaning the car is totaled and pretty much just junk now. There are places you can sell damaged or totaled cars online that might make dealing with this headache much easier.

The most important piece of advice you should take is to remain calm and level headed when dealing with emergencies like this. Taking care of your car could help reduce the chances of breaking down while you’re driving through the middle of nowhere. If you do breakdown, think through any actions you might want to take before committing to them and get your car to a mechanic as soon as you can.