Flat Tires and Blowouts
If a flat tire or a blowout happens, get a firm grip on the wheel, brake gently, and pull to the side of the road where the surface is even and hard enough to support your car when it is jacked up. Before jacking up the car, loosen the lug nuts. Then follow the directions in the car owner's manual. Make sure the car stays balanced.
This is caused by many things-a leak in the radiator or hoses, a bad water pump or thermostat, or a broken fan belt. Learn where your thermostat needle usually stays so that you can tell when the engine is getting too hot. If the car is hot from being overworked, you can do several things:
- stop and shift into neutral
- turn off the air conditioning
- turn on the heat and open the car windows
- increase engine idling speed when stopped
- pull off the road, turn the engine off and let it rest
If you have reached the danger point on your indicator or steam is rising from the hood, pull to the side of the road and turn the ignition off. Do not remove the radiator cap while the engine is still warm. The contents of your radiator are pressurized and can severely burn you. Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant level. If it is low, add coolant not water. Water is bad for your radiator and cool liquid added to an overheated engine could cause the engine block to crack.
If the radiator will not hold coolant, look for breaks in the hoses or radiator leaks. If this is a problem, try to temporarily repair it and go immediately to a service station. Never drive and overheated vehicle--this could cause severe and expensive engine damage.
Dealing with this emergency is simple, but dangerous. If you are going to jump start your car, do not smoke and always use eye protection. Follow these steps in order:
- Attach one cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery
- Attach the other end of the cable to the positive terminal of the working battery
- Attach other cable to negative terminal of good battery
- Attach last clamp to the engine block of the stalled engine. Do not attach it to the negative post of the dead battery
- Start the car with the good battery
- Start the car with the bad battery
- Remove clamps in reverse order.
Fires are generally caused by a fault in the electrical system or a leak in the fuel system. Do not confuse a fire with an overheated engine. If you suspect fire, pull off the road, turn off the ignition, and get everyone away from the car and as far away as possible. Call the fire department. If the fire is not located near the gas tank, you can try to put it out. Do not attempt to put out a car fire with water, since this may only spread the flames.
If you notice a wobble or hear a rattle from your wheels, you may have a loose or missing lug nut. Immediately pull off the road to check or tighten it. If you have one or two missing, drive to the nearest service station. If there are more than two missing, take one or more from another wheel and have new ones put on right away. If you cannot use any from another wheel, do not drive your car because the wheel might fall off.
Loss of Oil Pressure
This may happen because the oil level is low or the oil pump is not working. Pull over and check your oil level. Add more oil if necessary. Otherwise call a mechanic because it can permanently damage your engine.
If your throttle (gas pedal) sticks while driving, try to pull the pedal forward with your foot. If this does not work, shift into neutral and carefully coast to a stop. Do not continue driving if the problem is not fixed.