What to do when a car breaks down

If a car is well serviced by a proper garage, like the one recommended by KEMRA, it should be able to function well for many days without any issues. However, properly servicing a car does not iron out entirely the chances of issues cropping up in the future. If your car is having problems while you’re driving, try to get to the left-hand shoulder of the road as soon as possible, especially if you’re on a highway. As you pull your car off the road, keep the following safety procedures in mind:

  • Try to coast along the shoulder until you’re away from any curves in the road behind you. This placement pays off when you’re ready to get back onto the road because you can spot oncoming traffic before it’s on your tail.
  • If the engine dies right on the highway and you can’t get off the road, don’t get out of the car. Sitting in a dead vehicle with traffic piling up behind you is unnerving, but attempting to cross a high-speed highway on foot is suicide!

Whether you’ve managed to park at the side of the road or you’re stuck in a traffic lane, remember these additional safety precautions:

  1. Use the emergency blinkers to alert oncoming traffic. If the lights are not functioning properly as a result of a faulty battery or electrical systems follow this procedure. Roll down the window on the driver’s side, hang out a white cloth or piece of paper, and roll the window back up to secure it in place. Although this might seem weird it’s an easier and safer way to alerts other drivers, especially if you are stuck in the middle of a highway.
  2. If you know that you’re going to need roadside assistance, use your mobile phone to call a garage that offers vehicle recovery. Some of KEMRA recommended garages offer this service.
  3. To avoid being hit by a passing vehicle, never work on your car from the side that’s exposed to traffic. If you can, drive or push your car further off the road to a safe place, and try to reach into the trouble area from the front or the side that’s away from traffic.
  4. If it’s daylight, put on your emergency blinkers to alert oncoming traffic to the fact that your vehicle isn’t moving. This is not a good idea at night because motorists coming up behind you may think that your vehicle is still rolling along the highway and run right into the rear end of your car.
  5. If it’s night-time and you’re not stuck in traffic, quickly place warning lights or reflective markers about 1-metre away from the car to alert traffic, and then get back in the car. If you don’t have lights or markers, either turn on the interior lights manually or leave the car door that’s away from traffic open so that the interior lights stay on.
  6. If you get a flat tyre, do not attempt to change it unless you can get to the side of the road and the car is safely away from traffic. Don’t drive with a flat tyre for long as this can damage the rims, tubes and tyres.


It’s always a great idea to have a lifesaver in the boot, which comes in handy when you are in an emergency. Ensure you also have a flashlight, tool box, jumper cables and a first aid box. These will come in handy depending on the situation at hand. Another option is to subscribe to an auto recovery service from either a garage or from a company. It is also mandatory under the Road Traffic Act to carry a reflective triangle in your car.

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