Even well-maintained car rentals can sometimes suffer from mechanical malfunctions or faulty equipment. Unfortunately, not ever car rental customer knows what to do in the event of a break down. If you're experiencing troubles with your car rental, don't push your luck. Play it safe and follow these precautionary measures.
Before you come to a stop, it's important that you keep the car under control. This means that you'll need to stay calm; panicking could cause you to make a rash decision. Try to carefully think out your actions. Whether it's brake failure or a blown tire, keeping your cool is the number one concern.
Pull Over to the Shoulder
Try to get to the right-hand shoulder of the road as soon as possible, especially if you're traveling on the highway. The key is to get out of the active lane of travel as quickly and as safely as possible. Try to coast along the shoulder until you're safely away from an curves in the road behind you. This will make entering traffic safer and easier for you once your car is back up and running.
Breaking down on a roadway other than a freeway provides it's own challenges. Smaller shoulders and decreased visibility are two major factors to consider. If your independent car rental breaks down on a deserted street and you're forced to walk for help, stay on the left-hand shoulder facing traffic. Although this doesn't really make it easier for drivers to see you, it will enable you to react quickly if an oncoming vehicle gets to close.
Warn Other Drivers With Your Hazard Lights
AAA, the king of auto clubs in the United States, recommends that you turn your hazard lights on as soon as you come to a stop on the shoulder. On that note, make sure you know exactly where the hazard light trigger is on your independent car rental vehicle. Before you head off the rental lot, make sure that you take the time to familiarize yourself with this important button on your dashboard.
Hazard lights are important because they act as a warning sign for other drivers. The flashing lights symbolize that something isn't right with your car rental and that vehicles should stay a safe distance away.
Assess The Situation
Once your wounded ride is safely out of traffic, it's time to assess the situation and formulate a plan of action. Unless there's smoke or fire, try to stay in your vehicle. If you know what's gone wrong, (i.e. a flat tire) and are able to safely leave your vehicle in order to repair the issue, go ahead. If you know you can't fix the situation, now's the time to call for help.
Always Have Your Cell Phone On
Long distance cellphone calls can be expensive, but sometimes they're necessary. Before leaving the car rental lot, make sure that you've programmed both the rental agency's and a toll truck company's phone number into your mobile. Most states have roadside assistance or motorist assist vehicles just for roadside emergencies. If you're completely stranded, contact emergency services. They can dispatch an officer to keep you safe until a tow truck can be contacted.
According to AAA, nearly 600 people die annually as pedestrians on American interstates. If your car rental breaks down unexpectedly, remember to play it safe – remain in your vehicle and call for help.