How Well Are You Prepared for Survival if Your Car Breaks Down?

An experienced driver knows a car doesn’t have to be a clunker to break down on the road, and it can happen at the most inopportune times. Thankfully, cars are far more reliable than years back, but prepping for what might happen is wise because you don’t want a breakdown to turn into a survival challenge.

Traveling in summer’s blistering heat can be every bit as dangerous as traveling in winter’s cold. You don’t want to find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, late at night, especially on a weekend or holiday. Yet, when do many of us drive the farthest? Weekends and holidays.

Keeping your car properly maintained is so basic, but so important. Change the oil as recommended. Make sure tires are in good shape, especially when traveling considerable distances. Know when to recognize leaks or unusual noises.

Have an emergency kit in your car in case you do break down on the road. It’s recommended having a cell phone, which most of us have these days. Be prepared to ask for help if you’re in an area where cell phone service is poor or nonexistent.

You’ll want to have along a first-aid kit, jack and lug wrench, flashlight, road flares or reflecting triangles. Have basic tools handy, such as a screw driver and pliers, as well as jumper cables, snacks, and water.

A portable GPS system can help guide you to nearby assistance, identify your location, and provide contact information for local emergency services. Be prepared to think through what you’ll need to do if such technology isn’t dependable. If you don’t have a phone, or if it won’t work, walk to a call box on major highways or at a nearby business. Keep an eye on the traffic, and don’t cross a freeway or busy major highway.

When you’re stopped on the road, turn on your emergency flashers/hazard lights. When you think it’s safe, get out of the vehicle on the non-traffic side and raise the hood. Stand away from the car to the side when you want to be seen making a cell phone call for help. Don’t wait in front of the car, since you could get hurt if another car clips yours. Put on a brightly colored hat or expose light colored clothing for visibility.

Police in some states recommend staying inside the car when you’re waiting for help to arrive. That’s especially true at night or in bad weather. You may want to lock the doors and ask anyone who offers help to call law enforcement. Ask for identification when uniformed help arrives.

When you’re in remote areas farther from help your emergency kit could include a fire extinguisher, spare fuses, cash, extra clothes, and a short board to place under the jack. In winter, have a shovel, blanket, hat, gloves, hand warmers, windshield scraper, and kitty litter or sand for weight and traction in snow.

Here’s hoping your car never lets you down and your travels are safe and secure. Nonetheless, a breakdown is an eventuality you should be prepared for. You want to be sure you and yours survive it.

See the ready-made emergency car kits offered by the companies featured on the Survival Kits & Essential Supplies page in the Prep Mart.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.