When can you handle a roadside emergency on your own?

When you are stranded on the side of the road with a vehicle that you can’t drive, you have two choices: you can try to fix it yourself or you can call for help. Which choice is the right one? There are a few things to consider before determining whether you should do the work yourself or call a towing company. Some of our readers weighed in on what they suggest you do the next time your vehicle is inoperable. Keep reading to see what they suggest.

Lauren Fix

Lauren Fix

Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert at The Car Coach.

Learn Some Roadside Basics

Jumping a dead battery and changing a flat tire are the basic roadside repairs every driver should know how to do. Tire inflation is a quick repair if the tire isn’t damaged too badly.

When the car is overheating, brake failure, or a red check engine light comes on, these are not things that can be repaired on the side of the road. It will require a tow to a certified mechanic.

When in Doubt, Call a Professional

I think it’s incredibly important to be self-aware of your capabilities and skills with roadside emergencies so that you don’t risk it or put yourself and others in harm’s way. When in doubt, it is always better to call for towing assistance, as they will be able to resolve the situation in a professionally safe way.

However, if the roadside emergency is something that you can handle confidently, it might be worth doing so. For example, if it is simply changing a tire, and you have done so on your own before, then it’s best to do so and drive to the nearest garage to have the car checked out.

Shane Paarman

Shane Paarman

Shane Paarman is the founder and CEO of awesomestuff365.com.

Geoff Cudd

Geoff Cudd

Geoff Cudd is a Consumer advocate and owner of FindTheBestCarPrice.com.

It Depends

I think that the answer to when someone can handle a roadside emergency on their own is, “It depends.” Since people have widely varying skill levels and knowledge about cars in general, what seems like a quick easy fix to some is not feasible for others.

It’s important to learn basic things like how to jump a car, change a tire, and replace a windshield wiper so it’s not necessary to call for assistance in these cases. Then again, with how easy it is to just Google a video on how to do something, it’s worth trying it for yourself before you have to pay for a tow.

Issues that could pose a danger to the driver or the car are a different story. If your engine is overheating, you put coolant or water in, and it begins to overheat again, then I think that’s a good time to call a tow truck. It could lead to more damage and probably requires a mechanic and parts that aren’t immediately accessible.

Other obvious reasons to call a tow truck are if there’s smoke coming from any part of your vehicle, if you hear any loud pops or concerning noises, and if you’re stranded and can’t get a friend to come jump your car.

A tow truck can seem expensive, but it’s probably cheaper than fixing the further damage you could do to your car if you keep driving it.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.