What If My Car Breaks Down on the Highway?


Sep 21st, 2020

What If My Car Breaks Down on the Highway?

Cars, like any other machine, can break down at some point, and this can happen more often to cars that are not well-maintained. It is even much worse when your car breaks down on the highway. Trust me, it can be a hair-raising experience. If you're not ready for this situation, things could get ugly. 

As a car owner, you need to know how to deal with such spur-of-the-moment car emergencies. In this article, we guide you through some things to do if you find yourself in this mess.

What should you do if your car breaks down on the highway?

If your car breaks down for any reason, don't panic. Though keeping calm in this situation can be challenging, it is best to keep a cool head despite the distressing problem at hand. Below is a list of safety guidelines to follow when your car breaks down on a highway.

Turn on the hazard lights

Let other drivers know you are in trouble and that your car has become a temporary road hazard. 

Get your car off the road

If you're on a busy lane, steer your car out of the travel lanes where you can safely park it. 

Turn on headlights and interior lights

If it's dark where you are, turn on your headlights and dome lights to increase visibility. Set additional reflective markers about six feet behind your vehicle to alert other road users. You can also turn on other interior lights to improve your visibility and mitigate worse situations like other cars colliding with yours. 

Know your location

Note your location immediately for the police or other responders.

Decide whether to exit or not to exit your car

Generally, the situation you are in determines if you should exit or not from your vehicle. You can choose to stay inside your car and fasten your safety belt as you wait for help. Walking to cross a busy highway on foot can expose you to unnecessary dangers, such as oncoming high-speed vehicles.

If you decide to exit your vehicle, don't leave through the passenger door exposed to the traffic. Instead, use the other door that is away from the traffic. Wear any visible vest, if you have any, and avoid moving between vehicles.

Call for help 

Once your car is safely out of traffic, it is time to reach for help. Use your cell phone to call the emergency contacts that can offer road assistance, starting with the one closest to the area your car broke down. Fortunately, highways with heavy traffic are regularly patrolled, so it won't take long before the police or responders spot you. 

If you don't have a cell phone or can't make a call for any other reason, place a 'call police' or 'call help' sign on your vehicle to alert other road users who will hopefully notify the police or emergency contacts. If you judge the traffic as slow and safe, you can stop other road users and borrow their phone to make the call.

Depending on your situation, you can call the police or tow truck operators, and of course, your insurance company. Take note that some folks may want to take advantage of your situation or rob you by pretending to offer assistance, so beware. 

When is it safe to replace a flat tyre?

Getting a flat tyre while driving can be annoying, and more so if it happens on a highway, which exposes you to danger. In case you get a flat tyre on the highway, steer your vehicle away from the oncoming traffic.

First, study the area and assess the safety of changing a flat tyre there before getting into it. If it’s not safe, then call for help to get the car towed. You may be in a hurry, but don't be foolhardy.  


Knowing how to respond to a car breakdown situation is crucial to a driver. Not only does it keep you and other traffic users safe, but it also reduces other inconveniences. From the saying 'prevention is the key', you can help minimise obvious break downs. 

These include low fuel issues by fueling your vehicle optimally, flat tyre by regularly checking the tyre pressure, and replenishing it if it is low. Make a habit of inspecting and assessing your vehicle's condition and in case something is not right, contact your mechanic before hitting the road.

It is also a good practice having spare parts around you, especially high-wearing parts, just in case you may need them. Check out our auto parts finder tool to help you quickly locate parts you want.