Every Car’s Nightmare: 5 Worst Case Scenarios

blog-2When you think about it, cars take a lot of abuse. We expect them to start when we want, drive as far as we want them to, and never break down or have any kind of trouble.

Unfortunately, though, things can go wrong and they often do. The good news is that most emergencies can be prevented though and are easily fixed if you are prepared.

1. Lockouts.

It’s happened to almost everyone: distracted by the phone, the kids or the pile of packages you’re carrying, you hit the door lock and shut the door… before you notice that the keys are still in the ignition or sitting on the seat.

Lockouts are inconvenient, but not the end of the world. If you have a vehicle with the OnStar service, you can just call for help and the technician will unlock the car remotely. If you don’t have that service, call for roadside assistance or the local fire department. These crews have tools that will unlock even power doors without damaging the car.

To prevent lockouts in the first place, carry an extra car key in your wallet or purse (some vehicles even come with temporary keys that fit in a wallet).

2. Running Out of Gas.

This is another common but avoidable situation. Make it a general rule to never let the tank get below a quarter of a tank (or half, if you are super paranoid.) Carry an empty gas can in your car to use for an emergency fill up if necessary; never carry a full gas can in your car for obvious reasons. And if you care getting low, and you’re not sure where the next station is, stop and fill up. Spending ten minutes now can save you hours later.

If you do run out of gas, assess the situation. Sometimes, calling for help can be faster and safer, than trying to walk to the gas station.

3. Flat Tires.

You’re driving along, when suddenly, bang! You hear a pop and the car won’t handle and you hear the telltale thumping sound coming from the wheels. Don’t panic, but immediately pull off the road to a safe area.

Changing a tire is relatively easy if you have the basic tools and only a little bit of training. If you don’t know how to change a tire, it’s best to call for help, since you could injure yourself – or worse, cause an accident – if you do it incorrectly. Always monitor your tire pressure and keep it to the manufacturer specifications and perform regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. Carry a properly inflated spare and a tire jack in your vehicle to aid in the repair.

4. Battery Issues.

When the battery goes dead, so does the rest of your car… it simply won’t turn over. While most batteries last an average of three to five years, that life span can be shortened if you drive a lot in extreme hot or cold temperatures. If your battery is drained or near-drained, it also makes it more likely that when you accidentally leave the lights on overnight and thus you’ll wake up to find no power.

If you run into battery trouble, a set of jumper cables and a charged battery will get your car running again. If your vehicle seems to have trouble starting up, or you notice lights dimming or reduced power in other accessories, replace the battery as soon as possible.

5. Oil Problems.

If you perform no other regular maintenance on your vehicle, get the oil changed regularly. Maybe change your oil yourself. Why? Not only does it keep the engine lubricant clean and fresh – helping the engine run more efficiently – but regular oil changes help identify potential problems that could leave you broken down on the highway.

When oil leaks out or burns and isn’t replaced, the lack of lubrication could cause the engine to seize – a expensive (and possibly terminal) problem. If the check oil light comes on, stop driving immediately and address the oil situation.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, overfilling the oil can cause major car problems. When refilling the oil during a change or topping off the oil tank, pay close attention to the fill limits and do not overfill. Excess oil gets whipped up by the crank shaft in the engine and turned to foam, which can lead to a loss of oil pressure and serious engine damage.

Knowing a little about your car and preparing for emergencies can help keep you cruising down the road and out of the breakdown lane.

This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Edson recommends shopping with Parts Geek The Dealer Alternativeto get all of the things to prevent you vehicle from one of these nightmare situations.