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Six Things To Do When Your Car Engine Dies While Driving

The intense heat, electrifying electric bill, and a lot of beach photos swarming your Facebook and Instagram timeline are some telltale signs that it’s officially summertime in the Philippines. In fact, you yourself might be scheduled to go on a road trip down south in Batangas or up north in La Union one of these days to relax and unwind.

As such, it is best to have your car checked by a mechanic at least one week before your scheduled road trip. By doing this, you can ensure that your car is in good condition–making your travel safe and hassle-free. However, despite all the necessary preparations, car problems could unexpectedly come up.

What if your car’s engine suddenly dies while you’re on the road? Do you know what to do? There are six things you should keep in mind if in case you find yourself in this situation. Before we go over the six things , it is essential to have an idea on what could cause such scenario. There are a number of reasons that could lead to engine failure. Below are some of the many factors:

Wear and Tear – The car engine’s wear and tear could obviously lead to serious mechanical problems, which is why it is ideal to have a regular vehicle maintenance check. Your trusted mechanic could easily do this for you.

Faulty Battery and/or Alternator – A faulty battery could also cause your engine to suddenly shut down. You have to remember that when your car’s battery is not working like it should be, the alternator doubles its effort to keep the electronics as well as your engine running. On the other hand, if your car’s alternator is faulty, the vehicle will drain the battery. The alternator charges the car’s battery while the engine is running. It is also responsible for supplying extra power for the vehicle’s electrical system. In simpler terms, the battery and the alternator act as a one-two punch. These two components complement each other to accomplish their assigned task.

Ignition Switch Problems – The ignition switch is usually placed in the steering column right below the steering wheel. Accidentally hitting/brushing your knee against the key could put the switch into ACC (accessory) position which would shut down the power of your car’s engine. You should also keep in mind to avoid putting too many keys on the car’s key ring because the weight of these keys will eventually wear down your ignition switch.

Fuel Gauge is “Living on the Edge” – Your car needs fuel in order to run. So, if your car’s fuel gauge is already “living on the edge,” (nearing empty) fill up at the nearest fuel service station.

With these in mind, here are the six things to do when your car engine dies while you’re driving.

1. Keep Calm. Do not Panic.

The first thing you need to do when your car’s engine suddenly dies is to maintain your composure. Keep calm, stay focused, and do not panic. We know that this advice is easier said than done. However, in this kind of situation, presence of mind is crucial as it can dictate the outcome of events. Remain in control of the vehicle and evaluate the road as well as watch out for other motorists.

2. Move to the Side of the Road.

The next thing you need to do is to steer your car toward the side of the road. If you’re on the expressway, aim for the shoulder or the lay-by lane. Flick your car’s indicator light before you switch lanes. Remember to switch lanes carefully and gradually. Do not swerve the car as this can cause a
major accident. Now, when the car’s engine shuts down while you’re driving, the steering wheel would be harder to turn due to the absence of the power steering feature. You need to adapt to the situation and steer your car safely towards the side.

3. Turn on your car’s hazard lights.

Turn on your car’s hazard lights once you’ve made it to the side of the road. This signal will also notify other motorists to proceed with caution. Remember, you should only turn on the hazard lights when your car is already on the side. Do not turn it on while you’re still switching lanes because this can confuse and disorient other motorists as to where are you exactly going.

4. Set up an early warning device.

It is best to set up an early warning device as an extra precaution for approaching motorists. A reflectorized warning device adds visibility and attracts the attention of incoming motorists especially when it’s nighttime. Take note, a tree branch, a cooler, or a person holding a flashlight does not count as
an early warning device. Your car should always have a reflectorized emergency triangle in the trunk. After all, the Philippine law mandates that early warning device is a mandatory accessory for all motor vehicles, except motorcycles and tricycles. Try reading Memorandum Circular No. VPT-2012- 1609 or the Revised Rules on the Implementation of the Early Warning Device Requirement for more info on this.

5. Try to restart your car.

Once you managed to stop on a safe spot, try to restart the car’s engine. If it comes back to life and if there’s a fuel service station or talyer nearby, you have two options. One is you could push your luck and make a run for it. Two is you could walk towards the service station or talyer and seek help. You can only take option number two if you have a companion that would stay and look after your stalled vehicle for safety reasons.

6. Call a friend or a towing service.

Asking for help is not a crime especially when you run out of options. You can call a friend or a towing service to assist you. On the other hand, do remember that expressways have their own respective emergency hotlines–or in the case of the North Luzon Expressway, its own emergency call boxes placed at specific intervals on both the north and southbound lanes. Knowing and keeping those number on your mobile phone will be handy in situations such as this.

Road trips and summer getaways are surely one of the things that we look forward to. However, car problems may suddenly arise while you’re on the road. If your car’s engine suddenly dies while driving, always remember to keep your calm, move to the side, turn on car hazard lights, and set up an early warning device. Once you and your car are settled, try to restart it and weigh your options. If there’s nothing left to do, call a friend and ask for help. Drive safely.

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