No one wants to find themselves stranded at the side of the road. Yet it happens. We can only reduce risk and prepare for the worst.
Here’s what you can do to make it easier to deal with a breakdown so it’s just an inconvenience, not a major fiasco.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Winter driving conditions push vehicles to their limits. As a result, vehicles breakdown more often than in less demanding weather.
The Department of Motor Vehicles suggests every person should store the following emergency items in their vehicle:
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Jumper cables
- Foil blanket
- Flashlight & batteries
- Rain poncho
- Bottled water & small stash of non-perishable foods
- Multipurpose tool
- Warm clothing, including hat, mitts or gloves
- Phone charger
- Road flares
- Foldable shovel & cat litter
- Duct tape
Motorists should also ensure they have a usable spare tire and jack as well as necessary fluids such as oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. A small amount of cash is also a great idea. If you break down in a remote area, they may not have debit or credit.
Roadside Assistance Options
Besides packing an emergency kit, explore your roadside assistance insurance options. They’re affordable add-ons that offer many valuable services to help you if you find yourself stranded.
While all Rhode Island auto insurance policies differ, generally roadside assistance involves calling someone within the insurer’s network. They dispatch a professional who tries to get your vehicle running again. Here are some of the common issues the proper add-ons could resolve.
A common problem is battery failure during cold weather. It might work perfectly well when it’s warm outside, but a cold battery has less cranking power. Plus the cold thickens motor oil, making it harder to turn the engine over.
Another common winter challenge is a flat tire. Cold weather causes the air in a tire to lose a pound of pressure per square inch for each 10-degree drop in temperature. Plus, you can’t see what’s on the road when it’s covered with snow or ice.
The person dispatched to help you can change swap your flat for your spare so you can get on your away again.
Cold weather kills fuel efficiency and people often don’t realize their tank’s as low as it is. As well, they run their vehicles more often to warm them and this burns more fuel.
If you find you’ve forgotten to fill up, road assistance can bring fuel to you. You’ll be on your way in no time and you won’t have to make an embarrassing phone call to a friend or family member.
If the roadside assistant can’t get your vehicle running again, you’ll need towing to a mechanic. Policies include a mileage limit, but don’t worry if you exceed it. You’ll still get your tow, but you may have to pay a small amount for the mileage above the limit.
You’ve locked your car, now what? A lockout service can send a technician out to try to open the door with a pump wedge or jimmy.
Some policies also provide partial or total coverage for a locksmith if the technician can’t access your vehicle.
You’ve plowed into a ditch and you can’t move your car. Your policy may provide winching to get you unstuck and back on the road.
If you drive an older vehicle or commute long distances, roadside assistance can definitely benefit you. However, the potential cost savings are also important considerations. It can easily cost $75 just for one tow while an insurance add-on could cost much less.