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Imagine you’re driving down an unfamiliar road at night when suddenly you hear a loud pop. Or that you’re driving home on a Sunday afternoon and your check engine light comes on.
What do you do?
While we don’t like to think about it, there’s plenty that can go wrong with a vehicle. However, being prepared can take some of the pain, frustration and expense away.
Here are a few precautionary steps you can take to make those moments less stressful.
Understand what’s going on under the hood
The best way to prevent a crisis is to be prepared. The best way to prepare is to stay informed.
A car health monitor can keep you updated on your ignition system, tire pressure and more — all while saving you money on diagnostic fees at the mechanic. Simply plug one into your OBD II port, connect your smartphone and start tracking.
Check on your spare regularly
Speaking of tire pressure, there are few things worse than going to change your tire and finding a flat spare. Check on your spare tire regularly. Experts say you should always look for obvious signs of damage, like cracks or tears, before using a spare. Even if you never use it, you should aim to replace spare tires every ten years or so.
Make an emergency kit
Having a few things packed away in your backseat or trunk can make all the difference in many roadside emergencies. A pair of jumper cables, for instance, can get you back on the road much faster than it would take to get a tow truck and call a mechanic. Same goes for a tire iron and a jack.
Car tools aside, you should always keep a first-aid kit in your vehicle that’s stocked with bandaids and disinfectant.
Understand your vehicle
Now, this might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s an important one. You should understand your vehicle well enough to know when something isn’t right. You can prevent so much damage with just a little early detection.
So before you embark on your next big road trip, or whenever you have a little downtime, peruse your vehicle’s owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with some of the language. Look up some blogs or online communities of other drivers with your same vehicle to learn about common issues or tricks. The next time you go for a drive, take a few moments to observe how it drives, what sounds it normally makes and where everything is under the hood. You’ll be more prepared to handle an emergency when you understand how your car should normally operate.
Have a credit card ready to go
When all is said and done, accidents still happen — and emergencies are rarely cheap. Having a credit card you can throw down for unexpected towing, mechanic or lodging fees can help mitigate stress in a pinch. (insert name) of Mountain America Credit Union recommends that you “reserve a credit card exclusively for everyday purchases and emergencies. Do your best not to use it on impulse purchases so that it can be available for those moments when you find yourself in a pinch.” Look for a card that has low rates, high rewards and extra security protections to protect you from further harm. The Platinum Visa Credit Card, for example, has rates as low as 9.99% APR and offers mobile app security features.
Time to Hit the Road
Be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with your vehicle and stock up on those items that are sure to help you the next time you find yourself experiencing a car emergency. From vehicle health monitors to jumper cables, equipping yourself with the essentials will definitely prove to be the right way to go!