4 Steps To Take While Waiting For A Tow Service

When your car is disabled on the side of the road, your first step should be to call a towing service. After you make that call, however, follow these 4 safety steps to protect yourself and your vehicle while you wait for auto wreckers to arrive.

1. Assess Your Location

The safest location for you after a breakdown depends on where your car is located. If you can steer your vehicle onto the shoulder, for example, remain inside the car until the tow service arrives.

If, however, you are stuck in a "live lane" of traffic with no way to steer onto the shoulder, get out of your car. Stand in front of the vehicle where you can see oncoming traffic or hop onto the opposite side of the guardrail.

Take note of any landmarks you can see from your location. If your wrecker service has difficulty finding you, the driver might call back to ask for clarification. Helpful information to provide might include:

  • Street signs or highway numbers visible from your location
  • Nearby businesses
  • Mile markers or nearest intersection
  • GPS coordinates from your smart phone

2. Secure Your Vehicle

If you remain inside your vehicle, lock all the doors and turn on the hazard lights to warn other motorists that they are approaching a disabled car. You might also place road flares around your vehicle if it is safe to do so.

Gather any personal belongings in your car so you can take them with you after the auto wrecker drops off your car at the repair shop. These might include:

  • Personal electronics
  • Paperwork (including insurance information)
  • Children's toys
  • Umbrellas
  • Spare change
  • GPS system or cell phone charger

Never leave anything of value in your car when a wrecker drops your vehicle off at a repair shop. In the future, keep a large bag in the car so you can easily transport your belongings.

3. Prepare for a Repair

While you wait for the tow service to arrive, take note of the "symptoms" you observed just before you broke down. This might help the driver diagnose the issue when he or she arrives, but it will also be helpful if your car needs a more complicated repair.

For example, you might remember:

  • Hearing a strange sound or smelling a foul odor
  • Feeling vibrations in the vehicle or steering wheel
  • Seeing an indicator, such as the check engine light
  • Experiencing difficulty with acceleration

If all you need is a battery jump or a splash of gas to get you back on the road, the wrecker service might be able to accomplish that when the driver arrives. However, towing your car to a repair facility is the safer option, especially if you aren't sure about the cause of your breakdown.

If you have a notepad and pen in the car, write down your observations so you don't forget. You might also call your repair shop to inform them of the problem and to let them know your vehicle is on the way.

4. Contact Friends and Family

Not only is this an important courtesy when you're late for an engagement, but it also ensures someone else knows where you are. Provide your spouse, friends, or relatives with as much information as possible, including:

  • Your precise location
  • Estimated time of arrival of the wrecker service
  • Where you plan to tow your car

This is also a good time to arrange for transportation after your vehicle is towed. Have someone you trust meet you at the repair shop so you have a safe ride home.

Breaking down on the side of the road is never a welcome experience, but your tow will run more smoothly if you prepare for the wrecker's arrival. The above steps will also keep you safe and comfortable while you wait.