Flat tires, dead batteries, and empty gas tanks happen to everyone eventually. While you can’t prevent every emergency from happening, you can take steps to ensure that you can handle almost anything that comes your way. In many cases it’s as simple as keeping your trunk stocked with useful tools. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and with these handy items you can get yourself back on the road. When all else fails, B&D Towing offers roadside assistance throughout Concord and the surrounding region.
When you find yourself on the side of the road it’s important to alert oncoming vehicles to your presence, especially if you’re not able to get completely off the shoulder. Flares are bright incendiary devices that emit a distinct red flame. All you have to do is remove their cap, use the striking surface on the outer end of the cap to ignite the fire and then place the unit on the ground. If you have multiple flares set them on the road to create a diversion to keep traffic from hitting you or your car. They tend to last for about 15 minutes, so keep some on hand if help is more than 15 minutes away so you can keep the area lit until a tow truck arrives. Setting out a reflective triangle by your flares also helps to alert oncoming cars that they need to slow down and move.
In an accident, it’s essential to seek appropriate, professional medical care. While you wait for help to arrive, you can use the items in a first-aid kit to stop bleeding or tend to minor wounds. It’s best to get some training in how to use your kit so you can act competently in an emergency. Prepackaged sets are easy to find, or you can make your own. Either way, be sure that you have the essentials:
Running out of gas is one of the most common causes for getting stranded on the side of the road, and it’s one of the most preventable. Make sure to stop regularly to fill up. When you’re on a long stretch of highway it’s easy to misjudge your remaining fuel and the distance to the nearest service station. Keep a gas can on hand in your trunk, and make sure that you fill it up. A one-gallon container can give you enough fuel to make it 20 miles or more, depending on the efficiency level of your car or truck. Since gasoline has a storage life of three to five months, remember to use what’s in the can regularly. An easy way to keep it fresh is to empty the gas can into your vehicle when you pull into the station, then fill the can and finally finish filling your tank.
A dead battery prevents your alternator from turning over, which means that your car can’t start. One of the fastest ways to overcome this problem is with a jumpstarter. This portable box contains a meter and a pair of clips. Just attach it to your battery posts and let it go to work. You should be able to get your battery to turn over the alternator within minutes. As an extra bonus in an emergency, some jumpstarters are capable of charging phones to allow you to call for 911 or roadside assistance when you need it.
If you don’t have a jump starter, make sure to at least carry a pair of jumper cables. This device connects the batteries of two cars, one of which should have a usable charge. If you have a pair in your trunk you can use them on any car whose driver stops to help. For best results keep the working car running while setting the cables up. It’s important that you put the black, or negative, clips on the black posts, and the red, or positive, clips on the red posts. It might take a couple minutes, but you’ll be able to start your car with a proper jump.
It can be tempting to forego getting chains for your tires, especially if you live in a warm climate, such as Northern California. You can never completely discount the possibility of driving in snow, whether it’s from unseasonable weather or when you take a road trip to a colder region. Snow chains attach around your tires, giving you necessary traction when driving in icy conditions. Just remember that even the best of snow chains is not a substitute for cautious driving.
If you find yourself off the road and in a snow bank or on an ice sheet before you can put on your chains, it’s a good idea to keep some kitty litter on hand. Trying to reverse out of where you’re stuck might end with you spinning your wheels. Place some of the litter down at the base of the tires and then back up. As your wheel spins it catches the kitty litter, which has a gritty surface and gives you the friction you need to get unstuck.
If your tire goes flat, you need to pull off the road immediately. Driving on a bare rim can ruin it forever and cause you to need to replace the entire wheel. Changing out a flat for your spare is a simple process. You need a jack to raise the vehicle off the ground, and a lug wrench to remove the nuts that hold the tire on securely. Most cars come with a scissor jack, but you can upgrade to more powerful and stable hydraulic shop jacks for more lift.
Lug wrenches come in two main varieties. Four-way tire irons have different ends and can fit multiple fastener head sizes. These are ideal for using on your own vehicle plus those of anyone you encounter on the road. You can also get a long, single-head wrench. These big versions only fit a single type of lug nut, but they apply so much leverage that you can effortlessly get stuck nuts off.