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Car trouble: what to do?

Erin Shelby is a freelance writer. She blogs at

Ford's Pinto, circa 1972, allegedly caused much car trouble.

Ford's Pinto, circa 1972, allegedly caused much car trouble.

Has your car ever broken down unexpectedly? Whether you find yourself stranded at the side of the road or stuck at the end of your driveway, car trouble can happen anywhere. What should you do if it happens to you? Here’s what to do before and after car trouble strikes.

Expect It

Car trouble is coming your way eventually. Just as people get sick and need rest to get better, a car's moving parts need attention to be repaired. Some know-how in the area of preventing problems can go a long way. If you have the time and interest in learning how your car works, call the community colleges or vocational schools in your area and ask if they offer a basic auto maintenance class that anyone can take. Such a course could teach you how to change a tire and change the fluids in your car, which will save you money, time and trouble.

Purchase Roadside Assistance

If you drive an older car, you know that its days are numbered. Investing in roadside assistance can give you peace of mind. Calling to get roadside assistance is difficult if your cell phone is dead. Keep a cell phone car charger in your car to use during your morning commute on days you’ve discovered your phone isn’t charged.

Plan for Comfort

If car trouble happens and you can't fix the problem, you're probably planning to use your cell phone to call for help. But what if your cell phone battery is dead or if you're in an area that's out of cell phone range? Men's shoes are generally decent to wear for a mile-long walk, but ladies will need to plan for comfort in those shoes. Stilettos or heels will create blisters in no time. Keeping an extra pair of walking shoes in the car will keep you prepared just in case a situation arises.

Keep Your Children Occupied

If you have a young child, you’ll need to keep him or her calm if you’re stranded at the side of the road. Consider keeping a snack or an extra toy for your child in the glove compartment. This will come in handy if it takes a long time for help to arrive.

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Stay Alert

Unless you attempting to fix a problem with your car or you’re walking to get help, stay in your car. While it’s impossible to plan for every situation, know that well-lit locations are better than poorly-lit ones. Be alert to your surroundings. Do not leave your children unattended and do not accept a ride from strangers. Call the police if you feel your safety is being threatened.

© 2013 erinshelby

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