Vehicle Breakdown Checklist: What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down

It’s a situation no one wants to deal with: a car breakdown. It can be inconvenient at best, scary at worst, and no matter what kind of malfunction you experience, you can bet the necessary fix will likely be pricey.


No matter where you are when your car breaks down, here are 5 steps to follow to stay safe and get yourself back on the road safely.

5 Steps to Take When your Car Breaks Down:

    1.Be prepared before a breakdown. The best way to keep a bad situation from becoming worse is to be prepared. Always keep these essentials in your car in case of emergencies:

    • A cell phone charger
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Jumper cables
    • Flares or reflectors
    • An ice scraper, snow shovel, and sand if you live in snowy conditions
    • An umbrella
    • A toolkit
    • A first aid kit
    • Coolant

    2.Know how to get off the road safely. Cars typically don’t just stop entirely when there’s a breakdown, so you’ll likely have some time as your car slows down to get over to the side of the road. Avoid braking suddenly and take your foot off the gas smoothly and gently as you steer your vehicle over to the side of the road.

    3.Call for help. This is when roadside assistance is your best friend. If you’re a Metromile customer, you have the option to add on this feature to your policy so you can get a jump, tow, or locksmith 24/7. If you’re in serious trouble, call 9-1-1.

    4.Signal to other drivers. Here’s where the flares in your trunk come in handy. As long as it’s safe to get out of your car and walk to the back, place both flares behind your vehicle about 50 feet away or more if possible. Turn on your hazard lights and pop your hood so motorists know to steer clear.

    5.Use your best judgment. Strangers may stop to offer help while you wait for roadside assistance. It’s best to follow your gut; if something doesn’t feel right, stay in your car (as long as it’s safe), and only roll down the windows enough to talk and let them know help is on the way.

Breakdowns are never fun but if you follow these steps it will be just a car breakdown rather than a total mental breakdown. Interested in Metromile pay-per-mile insurance and Roadside assistance? Get a free quote now.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.