What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down

Follow these steps to stay safe if and when your vehicle conks out.

No one plans for their car to malfunction, but breakdowns do happen. Here's how to stay safe if you run into trouble on the road.

  • Have emergency gear. Keep flares or reflective triangles on hand. If you need to use them, place flares and reflective triangles roughly 100 feet behind the vehicle’s right side, center, and left side. Watch for traffic as you do this.
  • Keep your phone charged. Always carry a cell phone and charger with you, in case you need to make an emergency call.
  • Turn on your hazards. Make yourself visible to other drivers by turning on your hazard lights and popping the hood.
  • Stay to the right. If your car can move, but you can't make it to an exit or rest area, signal, slow down, and pull as far onto the right shoulder as possible without leaving level ground. On a shoulder-less road, pull as far into the right lane as you can. Stay clear of traffic, and never stand behind or in front of your vehicle.
  • Move to a safe place. If you can’t move your car off to the shoulder, it’s better to carefully exit the vehicle and get yourself to a safe area to wait for help, rather than remain in your vehicle.
  • Call for help. Once you've reached a safe place, call 911 (if needed) and then AAA Roadside Assistance at (800) 222-4357. (Members are entitled to roadside assistance 24/7, in any car, as the driver or passenger.) To help responders find you, note surroundings, such as prominent buildings, mile markers, and other road signs.
  • Stay calm. It’s easier to think and act your way through a stressful or emergency situation if you remain calm.