The keys to dealing with roadside emergencies involve keeping safety in mind at all times, dealing with the repair quickly and efficiently and fixing the issue permanently, so that the problem doesn't reoccur. This three-pronged approach keeps drivers safe in their travels, while preventing a common emergency from ruining their day. Some of the most common roadside emergencies include; flat tires, dead batteries, engine failure and over-heating. Drivers should learn how to deal with these issues ahead of time, while also keeping their vehicles stocked with the items necessary to make quick repairs.

Flat Tires

A flat tire occurs when an item pierces or bursts the tire, either due to poor pressure or other circumstances. Experts advise all drivers to carry a spare in their trunk, which will allow them to replace the tire without much toil. The spare is a miniature tire that should only be considered a short-term fix, but will serve as a stopgap between blowing a flat tire and getting it replaced permanently. To fix a flat, drivers will need their spare tire, a tire wrench, a vehicle jack and jack stands.

Before taking any steps toward changing the tire, drivers need to make sure that the location is safe. If the tire is blown on the side of the road, put on hazard lights and use flares or neon signs if available. Start to unloosen the lug nuts, and then place the vehicle jack underneath the middle portion of the vehicle, closest to the tire that is flat. Engage the jack, which will cause the vehicle to lift high enough for the flat tire to not touch the ground. Use the tire wrench to remove each lug nut one by one, turning the wrench hard to the left to loosen and remove these pieces. Make sure to set these nuts aside in a safe location, so that they are not misplaced. Carefully remove the flat tire and place it to the side.

Next, drivers should place the spare tire into the wheel well, where the original tire was situated. From here, drivers should replace the lug nuts over the spare tire and tighten them by hand initially, and securing it permanently with the tire wrench. Lower the jack slowly so that the vehicle does not crash to the ground. The flat tire should be placed into the trunk and saved, so that mechanics can use the rim when replacing the tire.

Dead Batteries

Batteries die for numerous reasons, including overuse while the engine is not engaged, and constant drain due to weather conditions. The number one way that most people kill their battery is by accidentally leaving lights on. This is a fairly simple fix that will allow drivers to get back onto the road with ease. This repair involves "jumping" the battery by borrowing power from another vehicle's battery, or with a portable battery-charging device. This fix requires the use of jumper cables.

Prior to jumping the battery, drivers should put on hazard lights and use flairs or neon signs whenever possible. The driver should also make absolute sure that the hood is properly secured, so that it doesn't fall and cause injury during the process. To jump the dead battery, drivers need to connect the positive end of the jumper cable to the corresponding positive battery terminal of the dead battery, while connecting the other end of the positive cable with the positive terminal of the live battery. To jump the battery, drivers need to make sure that both vehicles are off. Next, the driver should connect one negative jumper cable to the negative battery terminal of the live battery, before clipping the other negative cable to a free piece of metal on the engine block of the dead battery vehicle.

Start the engine of the live vehicle, allowing it to idle for a few minutes. Once time has passed, try to start the engine of the dead vehicle. In most cases, the dead vehicle will start right away, but in other cases, it might take a few tries. Allow the formerly dead battery vehicle to run for ten to 15 minutes after successfully charging.

Engine Failure

When a person's engine dies on them, the most important factor to consider is safely removing the vehicle from the road. After some troubleshooting, a person can quickly assess whether they are able to provide a quick fix to the engine or not. In most cases of engine failure, a licensed and certified mechanic should be left to handle the repairs. In order to do this, drivers need to remove the vehicle from the road by placing in neutral and navigating to a safe location on the side. Engage hazard lights and place a call to a local tow truck mechanic. As a rule of thumb, drivers can benefit from subscribing to roadside assistance service that provides tows. These tow truck drivers will remove the vehicle, and take it to any local shop for diagnosis and repair.

Engine Overheating

Engines tend to get hot in the summer time, or if they have been running for too long. The best way to cure this issue is to apply water or coolant to the radiator. Prior to adding the coolant, turn off the vehicle and allow it to sit for a while. Check the temperature gauge, which should indicate if the engine temperature is suitable for driving. If not, apply a liberal amount of coolant to the radiator before restarting the engine. Overheated engines are dangerous business, so make sure to stay off the road at the first sign of problems.

Building Your Own Roadside Kit

For best results, drivers need to have certain items available at all times to handle these problems, and others that might occur. Some important items to have at all times include:

  • Tire wrench
  • Jumper cables
  • Car jack
  • Engine Oil
  • Coolant
  • Spare tire
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Flares
  • Neon hazard signs