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We feel so sorry when we notice a car stalled in the middle of the road and the helpless driver standing outside looking for help, the car bonnet open like the jaws of an alligator. While one must avoid getting into such a situation by having one’s car serviced regularly, and checking the coolant, battery, tyre pressure etc. every day, ultimately a car is a machine and things can go wrong unexpectedly.

If they do, there are ways whereby you can not only make your life less miserable but also cause less inconvenience to other road-users. Thus:

If smoke begins to emanate from under your bonnet as you are driving down the highway, do not stop your car right there in the middle of the road. Reduce the speed, switch the hazard lights on so those following you know you are in trouble and can take corrective measures, take your foot off the accelerator, and let the vehicle roll at slow speed to the nearest lay-by if you can spy one, or, failing that, park it next to the footpath, i.e. the extreme right lane. Then switch off the engine, step out the car, open the bonnet so the heat gets dispersed, and only then scout of help. Do not take too much time looking for a lay-by since any delay beyond a minute or so might lead to an engine fire.

If the car engine stalls due to some mechanical failure, see if the car can roll down for some yards and you can use that distance to either park it in a lay-by or in the extreme right lane with hazard lights on. If it just stays put it is bad scene and you can do nothing about it except seek help from passersby or police to remove it so it does not obstruct traffic.

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If the battery conks out, which may happen when you stop at red light or when you switch the engine off while expecting a long wait in traffic jam, it is a hopeless scenario again calling for help from some workshop mechanic. But if you keep a battery wire you may solve the issue quickly provided you can persuade a passing vehicle to let you connect to its battery.

If you have suffered a puncture the best way is to very slowly drive – with hazard lights on – to the nearest lay-by and either change the tyre yourself or contact a mechanic. Remember, never postpone to another day getting your punctured stepney repaired. You never know. There is no law of driving which says one puncture will not follow another the following day!

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