Vehicle breakdowns can occur at any time and place, and should they occur, there are safety and practical considerations that you must follow to make the experience less stressful.
Your primary concern must be the safety of the occupants of your vehicle, as well as the provider of roadside assistance who comes to your aid.
What kinds of services will roadside assistance providers perform?
Roadside assistance is usually limited to enabling a customer to move their vehicle to a safe location or repair facility. These providers will generally not provide auto repairs at the site of the breakdown.
Usual services of roadside assistance include the following:
Jump start or "hot shot"
This service, which involves overriding a weakened battery to start a vehicle, uses jumper cables to start your vehicle from the assistance vehicle's charging system. This problem is a frequent occurrence in colder weather, as the cold causes even basically sound batteries to discharge.
Changing a flat tire
If the flat tire occurs in a parking place or in your driveway, you can generally remain in your vehicle until roadside assistance arrives. While waiting, you should be preparing to remain outside the vehicle while the tire is being changed.
This may involve finding a place to be protected from inclement weather or charging a nearly-depleted cell phone battery to use while you wait outside the vehicle.
Flat tires on a busy highway are much more dangerous, both for the vehicle's occupants and the service provider. If a tire suddenly goes flat, or an indicator light shows a problem with on of the tires, you should remove your foot from the accelerator, but refrain from sudden braking.
Pull your vehicle as far from the highway as possible, even if you can only access the shoulder of the highway. If the flat tire is on the passenger side of the vehicle, leave some space between the vehicle and any highway wall, and if on the driver's side, leave some space between the vehicle and median barriers.
When you come to a complete stop, exit the vehicle and walk as far away from the highway as possible before calling for assistance to avoid being hit by other vehicles.
If your vehicle runs out of fuel, your provider will deliver enough fuel to allow you to travel to reach a service station.
Be sure to specify the type of fuel that your vehicle requires (gas or diesel) when requesting assistance.
When your vehicle experiences a complete breakdown, leave your vehicle and call for a tow truck from a safe location if you break down on a busy highway. If you are able to move your vehicle a short distance, pull into a parking lot or safer location.
Depending on your service plan and the individual provider, you may only be taken to the nearest service facility. However, because many roadside assistance providers are independent contractors, you may be able to pay the tow truck operator an additional sum to drive you to a location of your choice.
Whenever you call for roadside assistance, be prepared to provide your vehicle's tag number and color, as well as your approximate (or exact if possible) location.
For more information, contact Collins Service Center or a similar location.