It is not unusual for people to feel stressed after their car or truck breaks down. This is especially true if it is older or has mechanical problems that are difficult to fix. But, there are several things that you can do to help reduce stress after your vehicle breaks down. The key to reducing the anxiety involved is knowing what to do. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to help you to reduce your stress levels if this unfortunate event occurs.

Pre Step (Ensure You Have Breakdown Assistance)

If you are reading this post, the chances are that you are worried about what you should do if your vehicle breaks down in the middle of a busy highway. Well, the best thing to do is to be prepared for any eventuality. For this scenario, it means purchasing specialist breakdown assistance protection. These roadside plans can give you the peace of mind that if you experience a breakdown, you will receive the proper towing and roadside assistance to help you get off the road safely and into a mechanics garage where you can resolve the problem. Even though these plans are usually relatively inexpensive, if you are unable to obtain one, you should at least have the phone number of a local recovery company in your car at all times. By doing this, you will at least be able to get a tow truck to come and get you if you become stranded. 

Pull Away From Traffic

It is always a good idea to get off the road, away from other traffic, when you experience engine trouble and the sense that something is about to go terribly wrong. If you find yourself on a busy highway and cannot get out of it, you can take the following steps to make it more manageable.

  • Remove your foot from the gas pedal.
  • Avoid sudden braking. 
  • When possible, try to use the right-hand shoulder to pull into. The left-hand shoulder should only be used as an extreme measure. 
  • Parking your vehicle with wheels facing right will prevent your car from crossing into moving traffic if it is struck from behind. 

car getting repair because it has broken down

Exit Your Vehicle 

Once you have safely pulled over, you should get out of your car and move as far away from oncoming traffic as possible. However, this depends on a few factors. For example, if you feel that leaving your car will cause more disruption, you should stay inside with your seatbelt. In any case, you should always leave your vehicle and move to the side of the road since this is generally considered the safest option (particularly if smoke is coming from your engine or if you see fire). When exiting your vehicle, you should keep in mind the following:

  • Always double and triple-check before departing.
  • Take care getting out of the car, especially if it’s a busy highway.
  • Get out of your vehicle through the passenger-side door if you’ve reached the right-hand side of the road. 

car break down

Keep Your Vehicle Visible To Other Road Users

The biggest cause of secondary accidents occurs when other road users do not see your immobile vehicle and cannot react quickly enough. Therefore, you must do whatever you can to keep your car as visible as possible, which you can attempt in the following ways:

  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • Make sure your vehicle is marked with reflective triangles (if you don’t have a set, you should go out and purchase one and keep it inside your car at all times).
  • If it is dark, you could also turn on your interior lighting.

Call For Help

The final step of your ordeal is to contact the relevant emergency services for assistance. Depending on what the situation is (fire, accident, etc.), you might require emergency services, but you almost always need a tow company to pull your car to a safe location at the very least. Based on the cause of your breakdown, you might need to contact your vehicle manufacturer to see if the warranty covers the problem. 

Be Sure To Have Certain Items With You In Your Car

Now that you know the main steps to take if you find yourself in this predicament, you can take a few additional steps to ensure your safety. No matter where you are traveling, you should always take the safety-first approach. What this means in practice is to keep a few emergency items in your car at all times. These can include (but not unlimited to):

Extra Clothing

If you live in a cold environment, you should always keep a warm jacket in your trunk at all times. Conversely, if you live in a hot location, a hat that protects your face is a must. You never know how long you will be waiting by the side of the road, and these little things can turn a miserable experience into a bearable one.

Reflective Triangle

As mentioned earlier, you should keep a reflective triangle somewhere easily accessible. It is usually not too expensive to purchase one online if your car doesn’t have one. The best thing is that they are collapsable and take up virtually no room, meaning you can often store them in the spare wheel compartment, out of the way.

Car Documentation

You should always have your car documentation with you at all times when driving, but this is especially important for breakdown situations. It will make the entire experience go far more smoothly, especially if law enforcement becomes involved.

Roadside Assistance Contact Details

If you are a member of a roadside assistance company, you should have their details available inside your car, including all relevant documentation and membership numbers, etc. Failing that, you should find a reputable local tow service and keep their number on hand at all times.


The humble flashlight is one of the most understated but essential pieces of gear that should be in every car’s glove box. When you don’t need one, you don’t know how vital they are, but you’ll be glad you have one when you do. You should remove the batteries and store them together if you plan on stowing them for a long time.

Staying stress-free after your car breaks down is just a matter of having the right attitude and knowing what to do. In addition, you should ensure to keep a few helpful items in your car at all times. An otherwise stressful experience can be made somewhat more manageable with a bit of equipment and some knowledge.